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Cromwell girls’ nemesis once again in semifinals

Ely Echo - Staff Photo - Create Article
The Ely girls basketball team battled Cromwell Wednesday night at UMD. Photos by Mark Sauer.

by Tom Coombe

One could easily understand if the Cromwell Cardinals were the source of nightmares - or sleepless nights - for Max Gantt and his Ely Timberwolves.

For the third consecutive year, Cromwell knocked Ely out of the Section 7A high school girls basketball tournament in the semifinal round.

Wednesday night’s matchup at the University of Minnesota-Duluth May have been the most heart-wrenching: a 57-51 come-from-behind victory for the Cardinals.

Ely, which finished 22-7 overall, led 33-28 at halftime but managed just 18 second-half points.

Cromwell tied the game at 44 on a deep three-pointer by Mya Gronner, and Gronner hit another critical triple in the closing minutes. The Cardinals finished things at the free throw line, scoring its last four points at the stripe to close out the Wolves once again.

“It was a state-level game, a great game,” said Ely Head Coach Max Gantt. “They hit some big threes from deep and we just didn’t make our shots at the end. We had looks down the stretch but didn’t convert.”

Ely, which was trying to get to the 7A finals for the first time in program history, didn’t show any jitters early on and put together an impressive first half.

Senior Grace LaTourell scored 12 of her 14 points in the opening stanza and the Wolves jumped to a five-point lead.

Ely was up 38-34 when the Cardinals dug deep. A Gronner three closed the gap and it was tied 44-44 with eight minutes left.

Senior Hannah Penke provided much of the Wolves’ second-half offense, finishing with 20 points for the game, and scoring 14 of Ely’s second-half points.

The Wolves couldn’t muster up enough second-half firepower, however, to end their streak against the Cardinals.

Cromwell’s Jill Anderson led with 17 points, Isabella Anderson contributed 11 points and Gronner poured in nine for the Cardinals, who moved on to face Mt. Iron-Buhl in Friday night’s 7A championship game.

Penke wound up with a game-high 20 points and six rebounds, while LaTourell added 14 points and junior Clare Thomas finished with nine.

Senior Sarah Visser, who completed her prep career as Ely’s all-time leading rebounder, snared 16 rebounds in her final game in a Wolves uniform.

• Ely reached the semifinals with its third straight win this season over Chisholm.

The Wolves prevailed 64-49 in a March 2 quarterfinal game at Esko.

LaTourell buried five three-point shots and led the Wolves with 23 points, and freshman Audrey Kallberg had a huge afternoon, scoring 15 points with six rebounds.

Penke notched 13 points and Visser wound up with eight rebounds and five assists.

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