The Cloquet Lumberjacks (2-1) grinded out a 65-64 double-overtime road victory against the Superior Spartans (3-3) on Friday, Jan. 22.
The first half featured a combined 3-of-17 shooting performance from behind the arc. Superior led the low-scoring affair 22-20 at halftime.
Then two seniors stepped up.
Cloquet senior guard Adam Schneider had scored just two points in the first half, thanks in part to some extra attention by the Spartan defense.
“They did a good job defensively,” Cloquet coach Steve Battaglia said of the first-half defense on Schneider. “They put a guy in his shorts and the kid didn’t give him any space.”
That kid was Superior senior Johnny Rhodes.
“I give Johnny a lot of credit,” said Superior coach Smith. “He guarded (Schneider) all night long and did a great job. He really stepped up.”
But Schneider’s coach lit a fire under him at halftime. “We told him we’re not going to win a game with him scoring two points in a half,” Battaglia said. “Credit him for making some changes.”
Schneider started the second half with an ankle-breaking crossover move that left his defender on the court and led to two points to tie the game. After his slow start, he scored the first four points after halftime and finished with a team-leading 22.
After a first overtime that saw Schneider make the first six points, Superior senior Kaden Kimmes answered in the second extra frame, scoring five of his team’s seven, including a pair of free throws after a hard drive to the basket. That sequence put his team up by two with five seconds remaining.
“Tonight he makes that drive, goes to the free-throw line, and makes a couple of big free throws,” his coach said. “You can’t say enough about him – he’s a lot of fun to coach.”
After a timeout, Cloquet responded by giving the ball to Schneider under his own basket. In the remaining 5.1 seconds, he worked to his right, crossed half-court, burst to his right again, and pulled up well behind the 3-point line for the game-winning swish as the buzzer sounded.
“Schneider’s been on the varsity for a few years now and knows how to play,” Superior coach Jake Smith said. “He’s tough.”
“The kid wants to be in the gym all the time, and that’s what happens,” said Schneider’s coach Battaglia. “You live in the gym and do all that extra stuff that people are unwilling to do, and you get rewarded.”
Schneider’s performance was matched by Kimmes, who scored 17 after the break to lead all scorers with 25. The game’s slow style of play coupled with two standout performances had the feel of a heavyweight prizefight.
“He’s one of our go-to guys,” Smith said of Kimmes. “He’s the type of guy who leads by example, and he’s a very, very smart player. Toward the end of the game we look for him to make something happen.”
The game started slowly, with both teams patiently passing the ball 12 or 15 times against hard-working man-to-man defenses. Possessions routinely lasted the better part of a minute.
“That was the first thing we had written down on the board before the game: patience offensively,” Battaglia said. “That was one of the keys to the game. I’m glad we were patient.”
Smith agreed. “It was kind of one of those slow, grind-it-out games, start to finish,” he said. “Both teams were kinda missing shots.”
Cloquet 20-30-7-8 – 65
Superior 22-28-7-7 – 64
Cloquet – Tyler Issendorf 1, Adam Schneider 22, Alec Turnbull 12, Dylan Heehn 11, Reese Sheldon 2, Caleb Hansen 6, Jack Sorenson 11. Totals 24 11-16 65.
3-point goals – Schneider 2, Turnbull 2, Sorenson 2.
Superior – Draden Jensen 6, Johnny Rhodes 8, Jake Kidd 2, Shane Leask 2, Ben Hunter 6, Robert Olson 3, Evan Bennett 6, Lars Olson 6, Kaden Kimmes 25. Totals 20 17-21 64
3-point goals – Rhodes 2, Hunter, R. Olson, Bennett, Kimmes 2.
This story was originally posted at 11:39 p.m. Jan. 22 with an incorrect name for Adam Schneider. It was updated at 9:24 a.m. Jan. 22. The Telegram and the Pine Journal regret the error.