Duluth East boys basketball coach Rhett McDonald on last week's games, and looking ahead to this week – "Going into last week, we knew it was going to be a tough week for our team. We gritted out a win on a poor shooting night on the road against Grand Rapids, followed by a come-from-behind win against Denfeld, and then battling but falling short against the Section 3AAAA favorite in Eagan. Overall, I am very pleased with our progress and happy with the last seven days.
In our wins that we have gotten to this point in our season, they have been games that we have shot the ball really well. The last week was good for us because we had to find a different way to win when shots were falling. We just kept playing, we just stayed focused, and were really gritty along the way, which resulted in two good wins for us. It was also good for us to get two wins on the road. It is never easy to win, let alone on the road. Even in our loss against Eagan, we saw some good moments from our group. They are a very tough squad, and we held our own.
The only game we play this week is on Tuesday at home against Brainerd (which is our staff appreciation game). Brainerd is a really difficult team for us to play. They are big and athletic, with three guys that can really score the basketball. If we can stay in front and contain the ball, and rebound with them, I think we will have a good shot to win the game. But, that will be a really tough task."
Hunters boys basketball coach Phill Homere on his 8-7, injury-riddled team – "Last week's games were an eye opener (consecutive home losses against Esko, 76-71 on Tuesday, and Duluth East, 60-59 on Thursday) for us – especially the game against Duluth East. We had that game won and unfortunately East showed that they wanted that game more than we did. The old saying is that it’s not over 'till it’s over. We learned that the hard way. This upcoming week we are looking to bounce back against two very talented teams. We are looking ahead to playing Hermantown (Tuesday, at Denfeld) and Superior (Friday, also at Denfeld), both teams who are playing really good basketball right now. We understand how important these games will be and we will be ready. The mindset is one game at a time.
Hermantown is up first. We played them earlier in the year where we was able to get the W (83-77 on Dec. 5 in Hermantown) but we know they have seemed to figure it out. Our boys are anxious for that game because that’s a team we always look forward to playing especially knowing the fact it’s a section/conference game. We are still missing quite a few pieces but with the guys we have now I am still confident we can take on anyone. We just need to stick to our strengths and not get ahead of ourselves."
THIS WEEK IN HERMANTOWN SPORTS
Wrestling – at Pine City, 5 p.m.
Boys Hockey – host Superior, 7 p.m. Game Notes – Uncharacteristically, the Hawks have lost two of their last three, including a 3-2 home loss against White Bear Lake on Saturday afternoon. Hermantown (11-4-2) will be a heavy favorite against Superior (7-8-1), which has lost three straight and four of its last five. The Hawks continue to get strong play from junior power forward River Freeman and senior forward William Esterbrooks, who share the team scoring lead with 23 points each (Freeman has a team-high 12 goals), and senior goaltender Dane Callaway (1.83 gaa, .935 svs. %).
Boys Basketball – at Denfeld, 7 p.m. Game Notes – Two-time defending Section 7AAA champion Hermantown (11-5) has won seven straight and 10 of its last 11, including an impressive 88-81 road victory at Bemidji last Tuesday night. Hawks senior power forward Abe Soumis, who leads the team in most offensive and defensive categories, continues to put his team on his back.
Girls Hockey – at Duluth Marshall, 7 p.m. Game Notes – The Mirage (11-8-1) are looking to rebound from a 3-0 home loss against Benilde-St. Margaret’s last Saturday in Proctor. Proctor-Hermantown has lost three of its last five. Senior forward Izy Fairchild has scored a team-leading 12 goals and 26 points, including a pair of game-winning goals. Junior forward Jane Ekstrom, with seven goals and 19 points, is also having a strong season.
Girls Basketball – host Hibbing, 7:15 p.m. Game Notes – The Hawks (4-13) lost 81-73 at nonconference Princeton on Saturday. Hermantown and Hibbing (2-13) will also meet Feb. 13 in Hibbing. Hawks junior center Olivia Johnson has been a major offensive and defensive force in recent games. And, Bailey Hermanson and Bailey Zagelmeyer have stepped up as dominating players.
Alpine Ski – vs. Hibbing, TBA at Giants Ridge
Boys Basketball – host Duluth Marshall, 7:15 p.m. Game Notes – The Hilltoppers are led by 6-foot-6 junior forward Brooks Johnson.
Wrestling – at Crosby-Ironton, 5 p.m.
Boys Hockey – host St. Thomas Academy, 7 p.m. Game Notes – The Cadets are coached by Mike Randolph, formerly at Duluth East.
Girls Basketball – host Superior, 7:15 p.m.
Girls Dance – at Mounds View, TBA
One-Act Play – at Hibbing, TBA
Nordic Ski – vs. Ely, 9:30 a.m. Hidden Valley
Boys Swimming – at Hibbing, 10 a.m.
Boys Hockey – host Maple Grove, 3 p.m.
Girls Hockey – host Duluth, 5 p.m.