Prep boys basketball: East's offense shines in win over Cloquet
The Greyhounds knocked down 14 3-pointers in an 84-48 victory over the Lumberjacks.
DULUTH — Scoring inside and outside with a high degree of efficiency, the Duluth East Greyhounds’ versatility on the offensive end of the floor was on full display in an 84-48 rout of Cloquet, Tuesday, Jan. 25 at East High School.
The Lumberjacks, fresh off of a section victory over Grand Rapids on Monday, were faced with a pick-your-poison scenario in trying to limit East’s damage in the post, while also trying to guard the perimeter.
“It’s a tough matchup for us. They’re bigger than us at really every spot. They’ve got three or four guys that can bang it from the perimeter, and they’ve got the size inside,” Cloquet coach Steve Battaglia said. “We have to commit more than one resource to stop their inside threat, and when you do that you leave guys open on the perimeter, and they find guys and they make shots.”
Lingering fatigue from the team’s win over the Thunderhawks the night before added an additional challenge that they could not overcome.
“We played really well last night, but tonight was kind of an inverse of that … We were a step slow from the get-go,” Battaglia said.
Despite never trailing at any point in the contest, the Greyhounds struggled to create separation on the scoreboard early on as leading scorer Caleb Hansen kept the Lumberjacks within striking distance for much of the opening half.
Hansen finished the contest with 18 points after scoring 27 against Grand Rapids. The production from Hansen was sorely needed, with East keying in on Conner Barney, who scored 30 in their previous meeting.
“He’s really kind of thriving in a role off the ball a little bit. I thought he was good tonight,” Battaglia said. “They paid a ton of attention to Conner (Barney). (They) did a really good job of taking Conner kind of out of the ballgame.”
Barney was held to nine points overall in the contest — a statistic that East coach Rhett McDonald attributes to the work of his entire team.
“It comes down to us really respecting him and guys knowing that when they have the responsibility to guard him, they have to produce, and these guys stepped up to the plate tonight,” McDonald said. “It was a team effort, and it’s not one-on-one against Conner Barney. It's going to take all five, and our guys did a good job tonight.”
Down the stretch of the first half, Cloquet trailed by only a basket with the Greyhounds clinging to a 20-18 lead. The two-point margin was the closest the ‘Jacks would come to catching East, however, as the home team caught fire in the waning minutes fueled by Michael Kastelic, who knocked down a trio of 3-point shots in rapid succession to push the Greyhounds to a 38-25 advantage at halftime.
Kastelic posted a career-high 22 points in the contest with 18 points coming from beyond the arc. Isaac Nyakundi led the way with 27, which also marked a career high.
McDonald credits the team’s ball movement as the key to its offensive success.
“Tonight was finally the first time where I can say that we just did a very good job of moving the basketball, sharing the ball with our teammates and just finding open shots,” McDonald said.
Guard Will Van Scoy was a key cog in the Greyhounds’ scoring surge, which drew the praise of McDonald.
“When you have a senior guard like Will Van Scoy who has close to 10 assists and four points, and he’s been playing varsity basketball since his eighth-grade year, that says a lot about our team,” McDonald said. “If he’s willing to do that and sacrifice his statistical categories, we’re in good shape.”
The second half began in much the same way that the opening half concluded, with the Greyhounds coming away with baskets on nearly every offensive possession to push their lead to an insurmountable margin at 66-36, after outscoring the ‘Jacks 28-11. East never looked back in an 84-48 final.
Cloquet (9-6) will return home for its next matchup against Superior on Friday at 7:15 p.m. Looking ahead, Battaglia is hopeful that the team can put the lopsided defeat behind them and continue to improve.
“We’re going to move forward. I like where we are in terms of our section and the opponents that we’re playing. I think we’re trending in the right direction,” Battaglia said. “Tonight was a little bit of a misstep or a backwards step along the path, but we’re not going to read too much into this one.”
Duluth East 38-46--84
Cloquet -- Reese Sheldon 4, Conner Barney 9, Joe Bailey 2, Kollin Bonneville 2, Seth Rothamel 5, Alec Turnbull 3, Caleb Hansen 18, Orville Councillor 5. Totals 18 9/17 48.
3-point goals -- Turnbull, Caleb Hansen 2.
Duluth East -- Will Van Scoy 4, Jobe Juenneman 12, Michael Kastelic 22, Isaac Nyakundi 27, Luke Lieberz 8, Rocco Paulson 2, Drew Larkin 9. Totals 33 4/5 84.
3-point goals -- Juenneman 3, Kastelic 6, Nyakundi 2, Larkin 3.