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Cloquet senior can do more than shoot from beyond arc

Cloquet senior Kami Diver always has been strong from 3-point range. But the shooting guard worked hard over the summer to become a more complete player.

Cloquet senior Kami Diver always has been strong from 3-point range. But the shooting guard worked hard over the summer to become a more complete player.

In a season full of highs and lows, Kami Diver reached the apex in a Feb. 8 game against Proctor.

The Cloquet senior scored 42 points, tying Debbie Hunter's single-game school record, and added 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 71-63 win over Proctor. In the process, she became the fourth girl at Cloquet to surpass 1,000 career points.

"That night, I told my coach [Brad Vieths] I was going to go for it," Diver said of the 1,000-point mark. "After I reached my goal, I kept on going."

The Lumberjacks may need more games like that from Diver as the Section 7AAA high school girls basketball playoffs begin tonight. Fourth-seeded Cloquet (10-16) hosts No. 5 Proctor (9-17) in a quarterfinal at 7 p.m.

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The Lumberjacks have struggled in the opening round the past couple of years, but Diver hopes for a different outcome in her final season.

"With this group, this year is going to be different," she said. "We don't want the season to end."

The 5-foot-8 shooting guard gives Cloquet its best chance. She's averaging 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game and shoots 48.3 percent (80-for-165) from 3-point range.

The three-year starter has developed her game to become more than a one-dimensional player. Instead of just squaring up beyond the arc, she's driving the lane and dishing off to teammates.

"She makes excellent passes; she threads the ball through the defense," junior Jessica Vork said. "She used to just look to shoot at the 3-point line. But it's hard to shut her down when she's doing everything. It makes her more of a threat."

Diver worked a lot on improving her game before her senior year on the Fond du Lac Reservation, about 12 miles outside Cloquet, where she was born and raised.

"During the summer, that's all I worked on was driving the lane," she said. "If I start driving, [opponents] have to respect me."

Once winter practice began, Vieths noticed the difference. He said Diver's newfound ability to penetrate "made her a more complete player."

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"That's when teams have had the most trouble guarding her," he said.

Vieths said Diver has received interest from Division I and Division II schools, but Diver said she's more inclined to start at a two-year college and go from there.

"If she goes to that higher level, she needs to be patient," Vieths said. "She's not going to be able to step right in and start."

But she is able to put up big numbers. And if she duplicates those numbers against Proctor again, the Lumberjacks might be around these playoffs a little longer.

* Grand Rapids (22-4) is the top seed and is working on a 19-game winning streak overall and 15 in a row at home. Tonight, the Thunderhawks host eighth-seeded Duluth Denfeld, which has won only four games this season, including coach Dick Swanson's 300th of his career. Milaca travels to No. 2 seed Hermantown (17-8), while Duluth Central visits a third-seeded Hibbing (13-13) team that appears to be hitting its stride by entering the playoffs on a three-game win streak.

RICK WEEGMAN covers prep girls basketball for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5302, (800) 456-8181 or at rweegman@duluthnews.com

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