Pine City 72, Chicago Lakes 68
What is great about playing tough competition is that you learn a lot about yourself and your own team. Chisago Lakes’ starting five might be one of the most talented lineups Pine City has seen all year; however the Dragons were able to pull off the victory 72 – 68 on Dec. 16.
“What a great win for our program. I am not sure the last time Pine City played Chisago Lakes from the old Rum River Conference days, but we are very excited to have them back on the schedule,” said coach Kyle Allen. “They are a very solid 3A school who brought some great competition to The Den and made for an exciting game and finish.”
Rebounding the basketball was not a strength for the Dragons in this game; Koleman Lind and Seth Logan led Pine City with eight each, however, as a team they only had a total of 29 on the game. The Dragons really protected the basketball on the offensive end and only committed seven turnovers. Pine City also took three charges in the game (Seth Logan, Kameron Jusczak, Caleb Fromm) which was huge for the Dragons on the defensive end.
Pine City 81, North Branch 71
To have to play two 3A schools back to back, and defeating them, is a huge feat for any 2A school. North Branch is running some similar sets to Pine City, getting pace up as much as they can and shooting a lot of three-pointers. The Dragons showed their strength on the court, defeating North Branch 81-71 on Dec. 17.
In the second half, Pine City looked to Seth Logan and let him showcase his skill-set some. After a sluggish first half, he really came alive and did a lot of positives plays on both ends of the court, and ended the night with 28 points. Caleb Fromm came out and played another great game, in back-to-back contests, on both ends of the court. He is learning to adapt his game and is understanding his strengths within the Dragons system. Fromm ended the night with 17 points. Koleman Lind also ended the night offensively in double figures with 11 points.
“I was really proud of the grit and determination our group showed in this game coming off of the win against Chisago Lakes. This was another battle until the end, and to do that in the fashion we did showed what this team is capable of,” said coach Allen.
Pine City 88, Two Harbors 59
Two Harbors came out gritty, really hard-nosed and tough as they hit the floor against the Dragons at the Target Center Dec. 21. Pine City kind of took a shot to the gut to start the game, being out-played during the first half; however, in the second half the Dragons were able to calm down, focus on the correct things, and the Dragon seniors did a nice job taking control of the game and leading Pine City to the win, 88 – 59.
Tanner Wicktor did a great job in his efforts on the boards and came down with a team high nine rebounds. As a team, Pine City did a good job on the boards, getting more than 40 total rebounds.
The Dragons struggled with ball control and committed way too many turnovers. Seth Logan led Pine City offensively with 17 points. Koleman Lind scored 13, and Caleb Fromm also scored in double figures with 11 points.
“We ended up shooting a decent percentage from 3 in the game, which is a good sign for playing on a bigger court with a different backdrop. That has been an issue in the past. All 13 players got to play in the game with 11 of them scoring in the game,” said coach Allen. “The Target Center... I am grateful that we can provide this experience to our players every other year, but the amount of work that goes into it is crazy! It is good for our boys to also play on a bigger floor, something we will see in the playoffs and beyond hopefully.”
Pine City 46, Proctor 55
When you don’t execute your game plan, you are very vulnerable. That was the case as Pine City faced Proctor Dec. 27.
“Hats off to Proctor, they had a great game plan, they executed it well, and their kids did not back down,” said coach Allen. “I thought our energy was low and our focus was off; it led to a lot of good scoring opportunities for them.”
Proctor did a great job of getting to the end and completely beat the Dragons at the free throw line. Proctor went 26-28 and Pine City was 2-4 on the night. It was a hard fight for the Dragons, allowing too many turnovers, not enough rebounds, and not enough defensive stops to win this game.
“It is disappointing, but I think there is a lot to learn from tonight’s game and a lot that will motivate us and push us to be better,” said coach Allen. “We will need to use the sting of this loss to help spring us forward into the rest of our season.”
Pine City 72, Cloquet 37
What a difference 24 hours can make. Pine City came out Dec. 28 with great energy, passion, and focus to defeat Cloquet, 72 – 37, less than 24 hours after being defeated by Proctor. The Dragons were taking charges all night on the defensive end, fighting for rebounds on both ends, and sharing the ball on the offensive end. It was like poetry in motion, at times, as Pine City continued to work throughout the game, stick to the game plan, and keep their heads through adversity.
“A lot of teams would have sulked after the loss the night before, but our leaders pulled our group up and addressed it. We stayed overnight, as this was a tournament in Cloquet, and we were able to talk in small groups and as a big group. I am proud of the way our leaders responded to the game the night before,” said coach Allen. “ I am proud of how our group focused on the little things and the important things to have more success the next night. It was a good win for our program, the first time we have beat Cloquet since I have been the head coach in Pine City.“