AURORA — It took the Virginia girls’ basketball team some time to find their groove on offense Saturday afternoon.
Once they did, however, they managed to secure a win against one of the area’s better teams, downing Mesabi East on their home court 50-38.
The two teams were evenly matched throughout the first half with Mesabi East’s Hannah Hannuksela and Virginia’s Rian Aune leading their offenses, respectively.
Aune opened things up with a three pointer from college range. The Giant’s six-footer Kora Forsline started her day at the free throw line, hitting one of two to start.
Hannuksela followed that up with a jumper to tie things at three but Aune fired back with another three pointer to make it 6-3. Forsline then cut the deficit to one with a putback bucket before Stevie Hakala knocked one down from the short corner to give Mesabi East the 7-6 lead.
The Giants managed to keep a 3-5 point lead over the Devils for most of the half with Aune and Hannuksela trading blows to keep their teams going.
Mesabi East spent the end of the first half tossing the ball into Forsline, who was parked right in the middle of the Devils zone defense. The Devils fouled Forsline on three straight possessions, putting her at the free throw line and giving the Giants the 23-18 lead late. The Devils responded with a pair of free throws from Emma Lamppa and one more from Sophie Christofferson.
The half ended with Mesabi East up on Virginia 23-21. Hannuksela led all scorers with 12 points while Aune had 11 for Virginia.
Virginia came out fast in the second half, starting things off on a 13-3 run that gave them a 34-26 lead. The Devils finally found some good chances for Lexiss Trygg in the paint while Aune continued to score on the drive as well as from long range.
Hannuksela hit a three to make it a five-point game but Virginia junior Anna Fink came alive from downtown and hit multiple threes down the stretch to keep Virginia’s lead safe.
In the end the Giants couldn’t handle the Devils’ varied scoring attack as Virginia won 50-38.
Aune led the Devils with 17, while Fink added 13. Hannuksela paced Mesabi East with 19.
On what caused the offense to click in the second, Virginia head coach Spencer Aune said it was a stronger performance on defense.
“Our defense picking up our intensity was what led to a better time on offense,” Aune said. “We knew we had to shut down Hannuksela and Forsline. That was our goal from the beginning and we really picked up on that in the second half and it made us more comfortable on offense.”
Getting the win against an experienced Mesabi East team, Aune said it was big for his team and their confidence early on in the season.
“They give us two really great games every season and they’re coached very well. We know we have to come in prepared when we play them because it’s never going to be easy.”
The win moves Virginia to 2-0 on the season. They’ll take on Chisholm on the road on Tuesday. Mesabi East will play host to Esko on Monday.
VHS 21 29 — 50
ME 23 15 — 38
Virginia: Anna Fink 13, Rian Aune 17, Emma Lamppa 2, Lexiss Trygg 10, Sophie Christofferson 3, Erin Haerer 3, Aleksia Tollefson 2; Three pointers: Fink 3, Aune 2; Free throws: 13-22; Total fouls: 16; Fouled out: none.
Mesabi East: Aaliyah Sahr 2, Alexa Fossell 3, Hannah Hannuksela 19, Kora Forsline 7, Stevie Hakala 7; Three pointers: Hannuksela 2; Free throws: 8-17; Total fouls: 16; Fouled out: none.
International Falls 78,
Mesabi East 68
At International Falls, Hunter Hannuksela dropped in 26, Brayden Leffel put in 19 and Kaid Kutar added 16, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Broncos downed Mesabi East, 78-68.
The Giants shot just 25 percent from the floor and had 20 turnovers, along with being outplayed in the paint. Making it even harder for the visitors was having only five players,
Mesabi East (0-1) hosts Proctor on Tuesday.
M. East 29 39 — 68
Int. Falls 38 40 — 78
ME: Brayden Leffel 19, Jack Ribich 5, Hunter Hannuksela 26, Kaid Kutar 16, Cody Fallstrom 2. 3-pointers: Leffel 3, Hannuksela 2, Kutar 4. Free throws: 9-11. Total fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.
IF: Boliger 19, Koenig 6, Riley Larson 13, Tucker Banders 9, Rein 19, Towreal 5, Wherlez 6. 3-pointers: Boliger 3, Koenig 1, Larson 1, Wherlez 1. Free throws: 13-20. Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
At Ely, the Timberwolves shot the ball well in the first half and played strong defense to knock off Bigfork, 95-50 on Saturday.
Joey Bianco led the way with 26 points, Will Davies dropped in 22, Emmett Falteske had 15 and Harry Simons chipped in with 14.
Ely (2-0) plays at Littlefork-Big Falls on Friday.
Bigfork 20 30 — 50
Ely 53 42 — 95
B: Jackson Lovdahl 4, Jared Lovdahl 11, Ethan Elhardt 8, Caden Kallinen 4, Bradley Haley 6, Jhace Pearson 13, Aaron Hovila 4.3-pointers: Elhardt 2, Pearson 2. Free throws: 6-7. Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
E: Joey Bianco 26, Brock Latourell 10, Gunnar Hart 2, Emmett Faltesek 15, Erron Anderson 2, Caleb Janeksela 4, Will Davies 22, Harry Simons 14. 3-pointers: Davies 4, Latourell, Faltesek and Simons 2 each, Bianco 1. Free throws: 8-15. Total fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.