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Prep boys basketball: Pocernich nets 37 as Cromwell-Wright earns state berth

Dave Harwig / Pine Journal Cromwell-Wright's Marcus Pocernich makes a layup during Friday night's Section 5A championship game vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at Crosby-Ironton High School.1 / 4
Dave Harwig / Pine Journal Cromwell-Wright's Drew Libbon makes a second-half layup during Friday night's Section 5A championship game vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at Crosby-Ironton High School.2 / 4
Dave Harwig / Pine Journal The Cromwell-Wright boys basketball team celebrates with the Section 5A championship trophy after defeating Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 65-52 Friday night at Crosby-Ironton High School.3 / 4
Dave Harwig / Pine Journal Cromwell-Wright's Micah Pocernich scores two of his game-high 37 points during Friday night's Section 5A championship game vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at Crosby-Ironton High School.4 / 4

Cromwell-Wright junior Micah Pocernich caught fire in the Section 5A boys basketball championship, scoring 37 points to lift the Cardinals to a 65-52 win over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Friday night in Crosby.

The Cardinals advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 1996, before any player on the team was even born. Cromwell-Wright played for the section title last season, but fell to Hinckley-Finlayson.

"It's a dream come true, it really is," Pocernich said. "As a kid you dream about playing in state and as a family we've gone down to watch the state tournament multiple times. It's just fun to watch those guys down there and now to actually be a part of it, it's just unreal."

Pocernich was 11-for-14 from the field and missed just one shot from long range. He also was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minutes to seal the game.

"We have seven guys on our team that can go for 20 a night," Pocernich said. "When one guy gets it going, we all just kind of acknowledge that and look to get them the ball, maybe set a couple more screens for them and that's basically what happened tonight."

Early on, the Cardinals attempted to press BBE in the back court and force turnovers, but the Jaguars' team speed forced coach Bill Pocernich to reassess the strategy.

"Looking at them on tape, we thought we could press them, but they tore through that pretty easily," Coach Pocernich said. "Once we got in the half court and got used to their athleticism and the motions they wanted to do offensively, our kids really reacted well to it. I thought after that first five or six minutes, defensively we were really, really good."

After falling back into a half-court defense, Cromwell-Wright was able to start getting into the Jaguars' passing lanes and disrupt their offensive rhythm midway through the first half. After leading by just one point with about six minutes to play in the half, Cromwell-Wright went on a 14-5 run to end the half leading 33-23.

Pocernich came out of the locker room and hit his sixth 3-pointer to put the Cardinals up 13. They led by at least 10 until a small Jaguars run cut the lead to seven with two minutes to play.

Drew Libbon broke free for a layup to give help stop the run, forcing the Jaguars to foul and put Pocernich on the line.

The Cardinals will find out today which team they will play in Thursday's Class A quarterfinals at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

BBE 23-29—52

Cromwell-Wright 33-32—65

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa — Dylan Meyer 5, Abe Peter 3, Jackson Peter 2, Ashton Dingmann 22, Gavin Kampsen 9, Blake Goodall 11. 19 9-14 52.

3-point goals — Meyer, Dingmann 3, Kampsen.

Cromwell-Wright — Marcus Pocernich 11, Drew Libbon 4, Micah Pocernich 37, Isaac Shelton 3, Cameron Cahoon 10. Totals 23 10-14 65.

3-point goals — Ma. Pocernich, Mi. Pocernich 7, Shelton.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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