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Prep girls basketball: MIB cruises past Proctor

The Rangers scored the first 16 points in the second half of the blowout win.

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Jordan Zurich (4) of Mountain Iron-Buhl shoots the ball against Sierra Ciaccio-Carlson (4) of Proctor at Duluth East High School during the Lake Superior Classic on Saturday Jan., 8, 2022, in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
CLINT AUSTIN
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Mountain Iron-Buhl’s Sage Ganyo scored 24 points and hounded Proctor guards relentlessly in the Rangers 89-36 win Saturday in the Lake Superior Classic at Duluth East.

The MIB press frustrated Proctor for much of the game, creating 10-second violations, traveling calls and turnovers that led to easy points.

“The girls were just all over the place on defense,” MIB coach Jeff Buffetta said. “When we’re playing defense all over the court, using the whole court and turning that into good offense — that makes everything for us and this team takes pride in that.”

Ganyo and fellow guard Brooke Niska relentlessly hounded Proctor ballhandlers and created many of the transition buckets that allowed the Rangers to cruise.

“Sage and Brooke, as two undersized guards, they’ve learned how to make up for their lack of height,” Buffetta said. “They’re just all over the place, they don’t ever look tired. They just constantly bring energy and they know that’s good. That’s what helps our team identity, so it’s an invaluable team for us.”

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Early on, Proctor was competitive, with senior Payton Rodberg scoring two early buckets. Close behind each of those buckets, however, came matching foul calls, sending one of the Rails’ leading scorers to the bench of an extended portion of the first half. Rodberg lost her rhythm during her time on the bench and would not score again.

Proctor Matt Solberg said Rodberg’s second foul was a “turning point” and the Rangers outscored Proctor 36-13 the rest of the half.

The Rails looked to grab the momentum and mount a comeback at the start of the second half, but the MIB defense didn’t let up.

More turnovers led to transition points and the Rangers scored the first 16 points of the second half. Proctor wouldn’t score until nearly 5 minutes into the second half, at which point the MIB lead had swelled to 58-20.

Rodberg isn’t one of the Rails’ primary ballhandlers, but as a senior that’s been on the team since she was in eighth grade, she brings a “calming influence” when she is on the court, Solberg said.

“She’s also one of our finishers on the other end and their ball pressure was incessant,” Solberg said. “They did their claw, scratch, grab full court, man-to-man and at times we dribbled into traps that we shouldn’t have dribbled into.”

MIB (11-1) is next scheduled to host North Woods at 7:15 p.m. Thursday and will have a major test in the following game against the top-ranked Class AA team in Minnesota, Providence Academy, Saturday. Buffetta, though, is pleased with his team’s progress.

“I’m really happy with where we’re at and I think we’ve improved,” Buffetta said. “There’s some little things we’re going to continue to work at and we have some games coming up in our schedule that are going to force us to do those things better, but we’re excited for those games.

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Proctor (8-4) will play at Esko at 7:15 p.m. Monday.

Proctor 20-16—36

Mountain Iron-Buhl 42-47—89

Proctor — Payton Rodberg 4, Hope Carlson 7, Sydnee Yost 4, Paige Evans 10, Lily Smith 5, Kelsey Tangen 3, Sophia Morin-Swanson 1, Audry Marunich 2. Totals 12 13-21 36.

3-point goals — Smith.

Mountain Iron-Buhl — Ava Luukonen 1, Lauren Maki 2, Jordan Zubich 25, Brooke Niska 10, Ava Butler 13, Gabby Lira 2, Hali Savela 5, Sage Ganyo 24, Jacie Kvas 4, Zoe Bialczak 3.

3-point goals — Zubich 4, Ganyo 3, Butler 3, Niska 3, Bialczak.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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