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Prep girls basketball: Late steal by Hope Carlson lifts Proctor past Duluth Marshall

The Rails erased a 10-point first half deficit in the final 3 minutes of the half to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room.

high school girls play basketball
Hope Carlson (13) of Proctor dribbles the ball against Ada Skafte (4) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — With about a minute to play Tuesday, Duluth Marshall had cut a one-time 12-point Proctor lead to four.

Almost all of the Rails' five losses this season, including losses at Superior and Cloquet , have come down to final minutes — a fact not lost on Proctor senior Hope Carlson.

Carlson poked the ball away from Hilltopper freshman Ava Meierotto, picked it up and took it to the basket for a backbreaking layup. The Rails went on to take a 58-53 victory home.

high school girls play basketball
Hope Carlson (13) of Proctor dribbles the ball against Ava Meierotto (2) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“We had to switch our mindset,” Carlson said. “Instead of playing with the lead, we had to keep our composure and try to get a basket even though we’re ahead. I was just trying to play with confidence and stay focused. Once I saw the opportunity, I capitalized on it.”

Carlson is Proctor’s only returning starter from last season and the only player left from the 2019 Section 7AA championship team.

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“When we needed her to make a play, she made a play,” Proctor head coach Matt Solberg said. “That was a big moment and it killed the momentum they had. A pickpocket steal, go down and make the layup — that’s a huge play given that moment.”

high school girls play basketball
Regan Juenemann (23) of Duluth Marshall dribbles the ball against Paige Evans (11) of Proctor on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Early on, it looked like the Hilltoppers might run away with the game. They opened up a 10-point lead with about 3 minutes to play in the first half.

“Our shot selection in the first 8 to 10 minutes was poor,” Solberg said. “They want to bait you into making it look like you’re open. We’d just chuck a pass and put a 3 up there. That way, they get the ball back because those are low percentage shots in high school basketball. We fell into that trap and at the first full timeout, I reminded them, ‘Hey, this is the gameplan. We want to go to the high post and distribute.’ We started doing that and that’s when we chipped away.”

high school girls play basketball
Chloe Carlson (3) of Proctor dribbles the ball against Anna Saari (12) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The Hilltoppers made three costly turnovers in the last five minutes and Proctor finished the half on an 11-0 run. The run continued into the second half, with the Rails outscoring Marshall 12-3 over the first 5 minutes of the second half.

Proctor started to use as much time with each possession as it could and give the Hilltoppers’ shooters a chance to close the gap, according to Marshall coach C.J. Osuchukwu.

“I knew if the game was anything under 10, they were going to stall the game out — I knew that was going to happen,” Osuchukwu said. “But that’s Proctor, we got down and they stalled the game. We did our job with containing their two best players and keeping them under their averages, but it is what it is. It’s a credit to them, they did their thing, they played their game. You can’t be mad at that.”

high school girls play basketball
Lily Smith (22) of Proctor dribbles the ball against Ava Meierotto (2) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

While Carlson and sophomore Lily Smith didn’t hit their season averages, they both finished with 15 points and each player came through with timely baskets to secure the win.

“I love playing with Lily, she’s a hustle player,” Carlson said. “I can count on her to finish a basket or make one when I need one. It’s just awesome to have a teammate I can count on — on and off the court.”

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Carlson and Smith have developed a strong chemistry this season and that chemistry is largely based on one thing, trust.

“Playing with Hope is really fun,” Smith said. “We know where each other is going. We trust each other a lot and trust is a big thing.”

Proctor (12-5) will host Grand Rapids at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

Duluth Marshall (8-7) will play at Cloquet at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

Proctor 29-29—58

Duluth Marshall 28-25—53

Proctor — Hope Carlson 15, Lily Smith 15, Kelsey Tangen 8, Chloe Carlson 13, Paige Evans 4, Presley Tapani 3. Totals 27 9-13 58.

3-point goals — H. Carlson 2, Smith 2, C. Carlson.

Duluth Marshall — Ava Meierotto 6, Ada Skafte 17, Chloe Johnson 9, Anna Saari 14, Regan Juenemann 7. Totals 20 0-0 53.

3-point goals — Meierotto 2, Skafte 5, Johnson, Saari 4, Juenemann.

high school girls play basketball
Ava Meierotto (2) of Duluth Marshall attempts to control the ball after knocking it away from Hope Carlson (13) of Proctor on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
high school girls play basketball
Ava Meierotto (2) of Duluth Marshall grabs a rebound against Lily Smith (22) of Proctor on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
high school girls play basketball
Duluth Marshall head coach C.J. Osuchukwu cheers for his players on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
high school girls play basketball
Kelsey Tangen (35) of Proctor shoots the ball against Chloe Johnson (5) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
high school girls play basketball
Hope Carlson (5) of Proctor shoots the ball against Pearl Swanson (30) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
high school girls play basketball
Hope Carlson (13) of Proctor looks to pass the ball against Chloe Johnson (5) of Duluth Marshall on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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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