Cards dunk Giants, 74-68

Mesabi East's Hannah Hannuksela drives to the basket against Cromwell's Natalee Hakamaki in the first half of Monday night's game in Aurora.

AURORA — A pair of 15-2 girls basketball teams got together on Monday night in Aurora.

When all was said and done, it was Cromwell-Wright leaving with their 16th victory after beating Mesabi East 74-68, in a exciting contest.

“This sure was a great basketball game tonight,” Giants coach Chris Whiting said. “Both teams battled out there and Cromwell came out on top tonight.”

The Cardinals grabbed an early lead in the first half when UMD recruit Taya Hakamaki nailed a pair of 3-pointers to give Cromwell a 11-4 lead.

The Giants got right back in the game when Hannah Hannuksela started to get hot fron the outside.

The junior hit a deep 3-pointer, a lay-up, a pair of free throws, and rebound that she put in.

All of a sudden it was a 19-17 contest with the Cardinals holding the slim 2 point lead.

“I knew that we weren’t going to give up,” Whiting said. “We battled out there to get back in the game.”

With 6:00 to play in the half, senior Amelia Mattfield hit a short jumper to tie the game up at 19-19.

The teams traded baskets throughout the rest of the half until Hakamaki missed a jumper but picked up her own rebound and put it in and hit one of two from the free throw line as time ran out to give Cromwell a 30-26 halftime lead.

The Cardinals came out firing the ball in the second half.

Hakamaki hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 36-26 game, and Shaily Hakamaki hit a bucket while being fouled.

She added the free throw and it was a a 39-26 game with 16:36 to play and forcing Whiting to take a time out.

“They came out hitting their shots in that second half,” Whiting said. “We just had to settle down and play our game.”

The Giants did just that.

They went on a 10-0 run of their own and all of a sudden it was a three point Cardinals lead.

The teams started to trade baskets with neither team grabbibg a big lead.

Cromwell had a seven point lead that disappeared quickly when Hannuksela scored three quick points and Ava Hill making a lay up to make it a 2-point game.

Mesabi East tied the game on the next time down court when Kora Forsline made a lay up to tie the game at 50-50.

“We worked hard to get back in the game and it worked,” Whiting said. “We moved the ball around and girls were hitting their shots.”

The Giants took their first lead of the game when Hill hit a pair of free throws to make it a 57-55 Mesabi East lead.

The teams then traded baskets until Cromwell took a lead that they would not give up with just under a minute to play when Shaily Hakamaki hit a lay up while being fouled.

She hit the free throw and the Cromwell lead was 71-68.

The next Mesabi East jumper did not go in and the Cardinals rebounded the ball and forced Mesabi East to foul.

Taya Hakamaki hit her free throws and that put the game away.

“I sure am proud of these girls,” Whiting said. “Cromwell is a great team and we battled with them all game long. We can learn from this game.”

Taya Hakamaki led the Cardinals with 34 points, while Shaily Hakamaki had 22.

Hill led the Giants with 24 and Hannuksela chipped in with 19.

The 15-3 Mesabi East squad with host Hibbing on Friday.

C-W 30 44 — 74

ME 26 42 — 68

C-W: Taya Hakamaki 34, Emmalee Hoover 6, Shaily Hakamaki 22, Natalee Hakamaki 6, Andrea Pocernich 6;

3-pointers; T. Hakamaki 5, Hoover 2, Pocernich 2; Free throws: 11-16; Total fouls: 15; Fouled out: None;

ME: Alexa Fossell 4, Ava Hill 24, Meghan Walker 9, Hannah Hannuksela 19, Kora Forsline 10, Amelia Mattfield 4;

3-pointers: Walker 3, Hannuksela 2, Hill 1; Free throws: 16-18; Total fouls: 16; Fouled out: None:

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