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North Woods hangs tough with 6-5 record

David Colburn
Posted 1/12/22

FIELD TWP- They’ve been on both ends of lopsided games and in the thick of others, but the North Woods girls basketball team has stayed on the positive side of the win-loss ledger by winning …

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North Woods hangs tough with 6-5 record

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FIELD TWP- They’ve been on both ends of lopsided games and in the thick of others, but the North Woods girls basketball team has stayed on the positive side of the win-loss ledger by winning three of five recent games.
The string kicked off during the winter break at the Aitkin tournament, where the Grizzlies rebounded from a hard-fought 53-43 loss to Class AA Milaca by trouncing Class A McGregor 59-42.
“We played right with Milaca up until the last six minutes or so when they went on a little scoring spree,” Grizzlies Head Coach Liz Cheney said. “There was a point in the second half where we were ahead and were just playing really good basketball. The tournament was a really great holiday experience for us.”
North Woods started the new year by hosting Carlton, and the Grizzlies sent the Bulldogs home whimpering from the sting of a 70-20 pasting.
“We’ve been slowly working on a press and it really came together for us against Carlton,” Cheney said. “We also have this tendency to play down (to lesser opponents) and we didn’t do that against Carlton. It was good to see the girls actually taking the time to set up a play, run it a couple of times and wait for that good shot.”
More good play was in store for the Grizzlies when they hit the road Jan. 6 for Eveleth-Gilbert. North Woods picked up its first win against a Class AA school this season, downing the Golden Bears 44-34.
“We have tried to beat Eveleth-Gilbert for many years in my coaching history and it was really good to see them pick up this win now,” Cheney said. “We ran into a little trouble in the second half and Eveleth-Gilbert got to within six points, but for awhile we were leading by close to 20 points. It was a good experience for the girls to understand that you might be winning by 17 but that it’s only a few three-pointers for the other team to get back in it.”
The good feeling of a three-game win streak got tarnished on Monday when the Grizzlies were thoroughly out-manned and out-gunned in an 89-33 road loss to Class AA Virginia.
“We really struggled with our rebounding,” Cheney said. “We were giving them three, four and five opportunities after the first offensive shot they took and we were getting one. They were quick and they were more conditioned than we were, so we struggled, for sure.”
But with a record of 6-5 going into a Thursday night battle against Mt. Iron-Buhl, the Grizzlies are sitting in the middle of the pack in Section 7A, two games better than through 11 games last year.
“We still have some things that we need to continue to work on and to tweak, but overall, I feel like coming into the second half of the season we’re setting ourselves up to hopefully see a little bit more success,” Cheney said. I’m excited for games like Ely and Cherry that are coming up, just to kind of see how we measure up. When the girls are playing hard, and together, we can be competitive with teams like that. The girls said in the locker room before Virginia that they felt like they’re the closest they’ve ever been as a team. I think that makes a really big difference.”
The Grizzlies will travel to Northeast Range for a game on Monday, then return home on Tuesday for a matchup against South Ridge. After a night off, the Grizzlies will be on the road again for a Thursday tilt against Nashwauk-Keewatin.

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