FIELD TWP— For a team sporting a lineup heavy on freshmen and sophomores, the North Woods girls basketball team has had an unenviable draw to close out its regular season.Mt. Iron-Buhl, Cherry, …
FIELD TWP— For a team sporting a lineup heavy on freshmen and sophomores, the North Woods girls basketball team has had an unenviable draw to close out its regular season.
Mt. Iron-Buhl, Cherry, and South Ridge are the top-ranked teams in Section 7A and Cook County and Floodwood aren’t far behind in sixth and seventh positions. MIB and Floodwood were the first to score wins over the Grizzlies, and this past week Cook County and Cherry picked up where they left off.
Friday’s home loss to Cook County, 75-59, gave a good glimpse into the Grizzlies’ potential. The game was a nail-biter up until the final seven minutes, when North Woods inexplicably faltered, scoring just two buckets the rest of the way.
Up until then, the Grizzlies stood toe-to-toe with the Vikings. North Woods went on a 10-0 run midway through the half that included a 15-foot baseline jumper by Shyla Adams, a triple by Hannah Cheney, a hoop down low by Hannah Kinsey, and a deep pull-up three-ball by Helen Koch. That put the Grizzlies up 30-21. Cook County narrowed the gap to one, but a basket by Talise Goodsky gave North Woods a 36-33 lead at the half.
“That’s one of the most solid halves of basketball we’ve played all season,” Grizzlies Head Coach Liz Cheney said. “They passed the ball a lot and worked together really well. It’s a really great time to be seeing that come out of your team.”
Cook County took a 40-39 lead three minutes into the second half and went up 46-39, but the Grizzlies didn’t fold. Scores by Madison Spears, Madi Dantes, and Kinsey got the Grizzlies back to within one, 46-45. When Goodsky hit a short jumper with 7:31 remaining, North Woods was hanging tight at 56-55.
But then the well went dry for the Grizzlies, and the Vikings closed out the game and the win on a 19-4 run.
Cheney said that early foul trouble altered her normal rotation, and in the final Vikings run her team “ran out of gas.”
“We were tired and started making mistakes,” Cheney said. “(The Vikings) had a couple of key steals and after that we just kind of fell apart.”
One thing the young Grizzlies are still searching for, Cheney said, is how to keep charging when their energy gets zapped.
“Where do you get the gas when your tank is empty?” Cheney said. “It’s got to come from your heart and soul, and we don’t have the experience to tap into that yet.”
Kinsey led North Woods scorers with 14 points, while Spears hit for 13 and Koch chipped in 11.
At 12-4 and second in the section standings, host Cherry was a formidable opponent on Monday, but as they did against MIB, the Grizzlies got off to a good start. The score was knotted at 10 each six minutes into the game. But Cherry’s talent and experience kicked in from there, as the Tigers rolled to a 48-17 halftime lead and an 84-29 win.
“They’re a solid team led by several seniors,” Cheney said. “We knew that Cherry was going to be tough. They deserve the ranking they have in our section.”
Dantes was the only North Woods player to score in double figures with 12 points.
North Woods was scheduled to end its regular season on the road Wednesday at South Ridge, the section’s third-ranked team.
But whether it’s six minutes here or a half there, Cheney is using whatever she can to educate and motivate her players, helping them to keep perspective.
“I feel like we’re building something good and exciting,” Cheney said. “We just need to celebrate our little successes. I think we use these tough teams as a way to learn about who we are as a team and where we’re at. We might not be the section champion contender this year, but if we can stay focused on who we are and what we’re doing, that puts us in a better position next year.”
With a record of 5-9 and sitting 13th in the section going into the South Ridge finale, the Grizzlies’ first round sectional game will more than likely be on the road on Wednesday, March 17, although seedings and matchups won’t be decided until next Monday.