EVELETH — After one half, it looked as if the Virginia boys’ basketball team would cruise to a win over local rival Eveleth-Gilbert, leading 43-25.
But the Golden Bears had a lot of fight in them and never took their foot off the gas in the second half and managed to keep things close with the Blue Devils.
In the end, the Devils came out with the 74-63 win, but it was far from an easy one.
Eveleth-Gilbert’s Carter Mavec got the scoring started for the Bears with a pair of back-to-back threes to put E-G up 6-0 early. Mavec would hit six threes on the night.
A block followed by a layup on the other end of the court by Jayden Bernard along with a Mason Carlson three pointer made it a one-point game.
A jumper from Carlson then give Virginia the lead but the two teams kept battling early on.
E-G responded with a putback score from Will Bittmann down low. Virginia’s own big man Kyle Williams answered with his own bucket in the paint to make it 9-8 Virginia.
Bittmann tied it up after getting fouled by Williams going 1-2 from the charity stripe. Bernard then sank a pair of singletons and Carlson made it a four-point game with a steal and a dunk on the other end of the court.
E-G’s Zach Lindseth had a nice turnaround bucket and Josh Creer-Oberstar scored on the layup to tie things up yet again at 13.
From there, Virginia looked like they were ready to kick things up a notch as they used their quick hands to intercept some E-G passes and convert them into points.
Not long after, they led 27-16 and expanded their lead even further with a 12-point run that made it 39-18 with 3:42 to go in the first half.
Bittmann, Mavec and Creer-Oberstar grabbed a few more buckets for E-G before the half as Virginia went into the break up 43-25 on their Highway 53 rivals.
“The first half was great,” said Devils head coach Derek Aho. “All around, we were getting steals and making our shots but we were getting the job done.”
After one, Bears coach Adam Roen said his team looked too stagnant against a tough team like Virginia.
“The first half we were real sluggish,” Roen said. “We weren’t getting in the passing lanes like they were and just not stepping up when we needed to in general.”
Virginia’s Nick Peters opened up the second half with a three pointer while Creer-Oberstar answered back with a steal and layup to get things going for the Bears.
Virginia stretched their lead to as much as 25 leading 60-35, but Eveleth-Gilbert scored seven of the next eight points — five from Mavec and two from Lindseth — to try and keep themselves in it.
Things continued to tilt in the Bears favor when Virginia’s Bernard was called for a technical foul and got taken out of the game for a quick rest.
Eveleth-Gilbert capitalized on this and got scores from Jake Sickel, Mavec and Bittmann to make it a 63-52 game in favor of the Devils.
Leading 65-52, Virginia’s Williams was called for his fifth personal foul, taking him out of the contest. Immediately after, he was flagged for a technical foul of his own. The Bears sank two of the four free throws to make it a nine-point contest — the smallest deficit since the first half.
That’s as close the Golden Bears would be able to take it, however, as Bernard re-entered the game and finished with six of Virginia’s last 11 points to help the Devils cross the finish line, 74-63.
Mavec led the Golden Bears with 23. Sickel finished with 11 and both Bittmann and Creer-Oberstar had 10.
Despite the loss, Roen said his team’s second half was much improved over the first, as the Bears outscored Virginia 38-31 in the final 18 minutes.
“The boys’ started playing more like what we are accustomed to doing. We just need to put two halves together.”
Roen singled out the play of Creer-Oberstar, who spent a long stretch of time in the second half playing with four fouls before fouling out.
“We’re very fortunate Josh had the game that he did for us because his effort out there kept us within earshot the whole time. We just let him go in the second half and he ran with them for quite some time and played with so much intensity. I’m very proud of him.”
Roen only had positives for his team after picking up a win this weekend in St. Paul and then going to see the Minnesota Timberwolves set a franchise record in made three-pointers on Saturday in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“The kids just had a blast. It was great to go to the cities and play a team we knew nothing about and get a victory out of it. Then seeing the Timberwolves play and actually win and win in the way they did. It was just a blast.”
Bernard led the Devils with 27. Mason Carlson added 21. While the game didn’t totally slip away from Virginia, coach Aho took responsibility for his team when things got out of hand in the second.
“That falls on me,” Aho said. “I was getting frustrated and shots weren’t falling on our end and things were going well for Eveleth on their end. “If the kids see their coach get down and mad and frustrated, then things like that are going to happen. The kids are afraid to make mistakes and we need to instill in them that mistakes are going to happen and it’s okay if they do.”
The Devils have a quick turnaround and another tough game coming their way as they take on North Woods on Thursday, but then they plan to take a trip of their own to the Twin Cities for some team bonding.
“We only have a day to learn because we have another good team on Thursday in North Woods. Our kids are tired. We had a long stretch of games with this last weekend and our slate of games this weekend. So we’re just looking ahead to getting away and having some fun at a Gophers game. I think we need some of that team bonding and just bringing the laughter back to this group.”
Virginia’s game is set for Thursday at home against the Grizzlies. Eveleth-Gilbert will travel to Crosby-Ironton on Friday.
VHS 43 31 — 74
EG 25 38 — 63
Virginia: Nick Peters 9, Dan Squires 1, Jack Toman 7, Jayden Bernard 27, Mason Carlson 21, Kyle Williams 9; Three pointers: Peters 2, Toman 1, Carlson 1; Free throws: 18-29; Personal fouls: 18; Technical fouls: Bernard, Williams; Fouled out: Williams.
Eveleth-Gilbert: Carter Mavec 23, AJ Roen 3, Zach Lindseth 4, Carter Flannigan 2, Josh Creer-Oberstar 10, Jake Sickel 11, Will Bittmann 10; Three pointers: Mavec 6, Roen 1; Free throws: 14-24; Personal fouls: 19; Fouled out: Creer-Oberstar.
Deer River 92,
Mesabi East 80
At Aurora, Mesabi East’s Hunter Hannuksela led all scorers with 33 points, but it wasn’t enough as Deer River came back to win, 92-80.
Head coach Dan Darbo said his club was ahead 3/4ths of the game before starting to get tired. About the same time, the Warriors began to hit 3-pointers and capitalize on their press.
The Giants also got 14 points from tyler Ritter and 12 from Kody Fallstrom.
Deer River was paced by sam Rahier with 23 points.
Mesabi East plays at North Woods on Friday.
D. River 49 43 — 92
M. East 40 40 — 80
DR: Branden Stejskal 3, Sam Rahier 23, Blake Fox 15, Ethan Williams 4, Quinten White 10, Logan David 4, Mason Olson 8, David McClellan 8, Ty Morrison 17. 3-pointers: Stejskal 1, Rahier 3, Fox 3, Morrison 3, McClellan 2. Free throws: 12-22. Total fouls: 22. Fouled out: L. David.
ME: Brayden Leffel 5, Hunter Hannuksela 33, Kody Frey 9, Ethan Fallstrom 4, Kaid Kuter 3, Kody Fallstrom 12, Tyler Ritter 14. 3-pointers: Hannuksela 5, Leffel 1, Frey 1, Kuter 1. Free throws: 12-16. Total fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.
Mountain Iron-Buhl 68,
South Ridge 61
At Mountain Iron, Asher Zubich poured in 43 points (including seven 3-pointers) to help lead the Rangers past South Ridge, 68-61.
Nikolas Jesch also hit double figures for Mountain Iron-Buhl with 16.
“We played really well for three quarters of the game,’’ head coach Jeff Buffetta said, but the team was a little self destructive toward the end of the contest. Overall, it was a good win, he added.
The Panthers were led by Austin Josephson with 19 points.
The Rangers host Nashwauk-Keewatin on Friday.
S. Ridge 25 36 — 61
MI-B 31 37 — 68
SR: Noah Sertich 6, Mason Lane 9, Nick Larson 4, Jaxson Bennett 5, Ben Wood 12, Austin Josephson 19, Kayden Palmi 6. 3-pointers: Wood 2. Free throws: 2-6. Total fouls: 20. Fouled out: Wood, Josephson.
MI-B: Nels Parenteau 2, Asher Zubich 43, Mason Clines 1, Jeffrey Kayfes 1, Riley Busch 3, Nikolas Jesch 16, Lukas Madson 2. 3-pointers: Zubich 7, Busch 1, Jesch 4. Free throws: 20-28. Total fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.
Lakeview Christian 31
At Ely, Dylan Fenske had a career-high 36 points for the home team en route to a 93-31 win over Lakeview Christian.
Fenske had 28 points in the first half alone, which was exactly what he needed to reach his 1,000th career point. Ely’s Eric Omerza also hit for 17 and eEmmett Faltesek recorded 15.
“He shot really well in the first half,’’ head coach Tom McDonald said.
Ely (17-4) plays at Chisholm Friday.
LCA 23 8 — 31
Ely 58 35 — 93
LCA: Lance Puffer 14, Anders Easty 6, Jack Safstrom 4, Andrew Wright 7. 3-pointers: Puffer 1, Wright 1. Free throws: 7-14. Total fouls: 3. Fouled out: None.
Ely: Riley Bishop 3, Joey Bianco 7, Brock Latourell 6, Eric Omerza 17, Mason Davis 2, Emmett Faltesek 15, Dylan Fenske 36, Caleb Janeksela 1, Will Davies 6. 3-pointers: Bishop 1, Bianco 1, Omerza 1, Faltesek 1. Free throws: 1-2. Total fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.
North Woods 90,
International Falls 61
At Cook, the Grizzlies’ Darius Goggleye, TJ Chiabotti and Trevor Morrison combined to score 74 points on their way to a 90-61 win over International Falls.
TJ Chiabotti led the way with 26 points, whiile Goggleye and Morrison each dropped in 24.
The Broncos were led by Jett Tomczak with 20 points.
North Woods travels to Virginia on Thursday and then hosts Mesabi East Friday.
Int. Falls 41 20 — 61
N. Woods 42 48 — 90
IF: Jace Hallin 7, Bryant Koenig 5, Riley Larson 18, Jesse Forsythe 1, Cullen Rein 10, Jett Tomczak 20. 3-pointers: Hallin 1, Rein 1, Tomczak 2. Free throws: 5-10. Total fouls; 13. Fouled out: Larson.
NW: Darius Goggleye 24, Jared Chiabotti 8, TJ Chiabotti 26, Brenden Chiabotti 2. Levi Byram 6, Trevor Morrison 24. 3-pointers: TJ Chiabotti 1. Free throws: 9-12. Total fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.
Harbor City 12
CHERRY — Nick Serna had 14 points, and Izaic Martin 12 as the Tigers beat Harbor City at home Tuesday.
Mason Perkovich and Isaac Asuma both hit double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Harbor City was led by Ray Pannel with six points.
HC 4 8 — 12
CHS 56 19 — 75
Harbor City: Simon Olson 2, Cyrus Sparhawk 2, Ray Pannel 6, Grant Mielke 2.
Cherry: Isaac Asuma 10, Gavin Constantine 8, Sam Serna 6, Izaic Martin 12, Zach Carpenter 4, Nick Serna 14, Tom Mancini 1, Bobby Mancini 4, Beau Barry 3, Kaleb Reinerson 2, Mason Perkovich 11.
Total Fouls: Harbor City 14; Cherry 5; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Harbor City 9-3; Cherry 6-14; 3-pointers: Asuma 2, Constantine, Nick Serna 2.
Northeast Range 27
CHISHOLM — Jordan Temple had 18 points to lead the Bluestreaks to the home victory over the Nighthawks Tuesday on Bob McDonald Court in Roels Gymnasium.
Sofie Anderson pitched in with 11 points and Tresa Baumgard had 10.
Casey Zahnow had 15 for Northeast Range.
NR 16 11 — 27
CHS 28 28 — 56
Northeast Range: Casey Zahnow 15, Natalie Nelmark 6, Willa Koivisto 4, Jenna Smith 2.
Chisholm: Jordan Temple 18, Sofie Anderson 11, Tresa Baumgard 10, Hannah Kne 7, Katie Pearson 6, Lola Huhta 2, Mya Pessenda 2.
Total Fouls: Northeast Range 13; Chisholm 11; Fouled Out: Nelmark; Free Throws: Northeast Range 3-3; Chisholm 11-14; 3-pointers: Zahnow 2, Temple 2, Anderson 2, Kne.