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REGIONAL- The North Woods Grizzlies returned to form in their sectional hoops tourney opener March 9 against Littlefork-Big Falls, winning 89-71, but failed to advance against Cherry, 105-76.After …
REGIONAL- The North Woods Grizzlies returned to form in their sectional hoops tourney opener March 9 against Littlefork-Big Falls, winning 89-71, but failed to advance against Cherry, 105-76.
After closing out the regular season with a road loss to Deer River, the Grizzlies were looking to regain a bit of their swagger against the tenth-seeded Vikings. The contest was tight to start, as L-BF kept pace 12-12 in the early going. But the Grizzlies shattered any illusion this one would be close by amping up the pressure on defense and reeling off a 10-0 burst that would snowball, leading to another blitz ahead of the break. The Grizzlies headed into halftime staked to a 23-point lead, 52-29.
The Vikings trimmed that margin a bit in the second half when Grizzlies Head Coach Andrew Jugovich began rotating his bench into the lineup, but North Woods was never seriously threatened in posting the 18-point victory.
The Grizzlies used a familiar formula to score the win, forcing 21 L-BF turnovers that they turned into a 24-8 advantage in points scored off turnovers. North Woods also rebounded well in this game, pulling down 53 boards to the Vikings’ 38.
Jonah Burnett and Brenden Chiabotti each scored 22 to lead the Grizzlies. Jared Chiabotti added 17, and Kaden Ratai had 11.
Bracket builders didn’t do the Grizzlies any favors when they slotted Cherry second in the section, making them the next opponent for North Woods. Using the Quality Ratings Formula, Cherry was rated the fourth best team in the state in Class A, and had already beaten the Grizzlies 84-65 in the regular season.
Playing Saturday at Duluth Denfeld, the Tigers took a early lead, but North Woods steadily reeled them back in, drawing to within 33-30. From that point, it was largely a case of the Grizzlies having woken a slumbering giant, as Cherry closed out the first half on a 25-8 run to lead 58-38 at the break.
The Tigers were at their strongest when taking advantage of the Grizzlies in the paint, where they enjoyed a 70-20 advantage over North Woods. Neutralized inside and unable to mount a running game, North Woods didn’t have the weapons to counter Cherry and watched their season come to an end with the 29-point loss.
The Grizzlies’ trio of 1,000-point career scorers led the offense, with Brenden Chiabotti leading the way with 24. Jared Chiabotti scored 17 and Burnett added 16.
North Woods finished the season at 17-11.
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