EVELETH — The Mesabi East girls’ basketball team took advantage of great rebounding and a outstanding night at the free throw line, on their way to a 56-34 win over Eveleth-Gilbert on Thursday night.
“We did some really good things tonight,” Giants coach Chris Whiting said. “The first half we came out a little slow, taking some quick shots and trying to score 100 points in the first half.”
Mesabi East did jump out to a 10-4 lead after a steal by senior Emily Reid and a layup giving to put the Giants up by six.
“What really stood out to me was that we didn’t panic when we fell behind and still were out there running our offense and it got us right back in the game,” Golden Bars coach Gage Rautio said. “I really liked the defensive pressure we were putting on.”
The Giants had a 14-8 lead until Golden Bears junior Liz Stanaway hit a deep 3-pointer to get Eveleth-Gilbert back within three points.
“That was a big shot,” Rautio said. “It really fired us up.”
Hill hit another short jumper to give her 10 points in the half and giving the Giants a 21-19 lead at the half.
“We didn’t do a couple of the little things in the half, but did hit some nice shots,” Whiting said. “But we knew we that when we came out in the second half, we would have to change a couple of things and play our game.”
Delich led the Golden Bears with 6 points in the half.
Mesabi East got off to a quick start in the second half.
Emily Reid hit a jumper to give the Giants a five point lead and the Mesabi East defense got a steal and after a Hill lay up, it was a 28-21 Mesabi East lead, forcing Rautio to take a time out.
“I really like how we came out in that second half,” Whiting said. “It was the little things that got us going and it showed out there on the court.”
The Giants continued to turn it up on defense while forcing the Golden Bears to take long jumpers.
“We had way too many turnovers in that second half,” Rautio said. “You can’t do that against a team like Mesabi East. They will make you pay for turing the ball over.”
Mesabi East added to their lead with eight minutes to play when Kora Forsline drove to the bucket and put in a layup while being fouled.
The freshman hit the free throw and the Giants had a 38-26 lead.
The next time down court Forsline hit another jumper to make it a 14 point Giants lead.
But she wasn’t done. On the next Mesabi East possession, she fired up a deep 3-pointer that caught nothing but net and it was a 43-26 Mesabi East lead.
“That three times down court really hurt us,” Rautio said. “Like I said before, you have to play good defense or teams will make you pay.”
The teams traded some buckets through out the rest of the contest and the Giants came away with the 22-point win.
Mesabi East finished the contest going 17-20 at the free throw line.
Hill led Mesabi East with 23 points, while Hannah Hannuksela and Forsline each added 10.
The 2-2 Giants will host Duluth Denfeld on Monday.
Delich led the 1-3 Golden Bears with 10 points.
Eveleth-Gilbert will travel to Northeast Range on Tuesday.
ME 21 35 — 56
E-G 19 15 — 34
ME: Lexi Highland 2, Ava Hill 23, Hannah Hannuksela 10, Kora Forsline 10, Emily Reid 3, Mia Mattfield 8.
Three pointers: Forsline; Free throws; 17-20; Total fouls: 20; Fouled out: Mattfield
E-G: Lauren Latvaaho 4, Payton Dosan 5, Amara Carey 3, Audrey Delich 10, Liz Stanaway 3, Elli Jankila 5, McCayla Winkler 2, McKendrick Landwer 2.
Three pointers: Stanaway; Free throws: N/A Total fouls: 20; Fouled out: None