EVELETH — The Eveleth-Gilbert girls’ basketball team came into Tuesday night’s game with Deer River tired and a bit banged up.
Falling to Virginia in a tight battle the night before, the Golden Bears responded and came away with a win against the Warriors, 48-40.
The Bears offense was led by the 1-2 punch of Elli Jankila in the post along with Morgan Marks firing from the outside. The pair combined for 34 points on the night to keep E-G in front, but the lead never felt secure as Deer River mounted a late run to keep things close.
The Golden Bears started things off with a quick 8-3 lead with Marks scoring on a long two before Jankila found her home in the post for a bucket. Sophomore Lydia Delich added two more on the drive and the Bears dished to Jankila once again down low for another score.
Deer River responded with points in the paint from Katie Storlie and Jessica Reigel to make it 8-7 E-G.
Following a Bears timeout, a Storlie steal and layup gave the Warriors the early lead but it was short lived with Jankila completing the three-point play the old fashioned way to go up 11-9.
Marks followed that up with a layup and Cadyn Krmpotich got involved in the paint for two more to make it 15-9. Deer River fought back with points from the free throw line from Kristin Schaaf before Torii Anttila hit her first three of the night to make it 17-14 E-G.
A bucket from Constance Bowstring later made it 19-17 and the Warriors found their home trailing the Bears by one bucket for the rest of the half. Marks hit one more long two to give the Bears 23 while Anttila knocked down a final pair of free throws to make it 23-21 at the half.
The Bears came out looking stronger in the second half with Jankila and Marks scoring immediately in the paint and from three-point land, respectively. Anttilla knocked one down from the short corner but Krmpotich and Delich were next to score to make it a nine point game, 32-23.
The Bears kept piling it on as Jankila dumped in two more before Marks hit another three. On the next possession, eighth grader Anna Westby nabbed a steal and put in a layup at the other end, making it 39-23 while forcing a Deer River timeout.
Eveleth-Gilbert stretched the lead to as high as 18 with Jankila scoring on two more putbacks before Anttila added a bucket of her own in the paint.
Up 43-25, the Bears looked to be in control but the Warriors slowly began to whittle away at the deficit with more buckets from Antilla and Reigel. Cutting the lead down to as little as seven, the Bears were able to hang on late and come away with the 48-40 win.
While not the effort he may have wanted coming into Tuesday’s game, E-G head coach Karwin Marks said the team was certainly feeling the effects of playing many games in a short period of time.
“We have to blame a little bit of tonight on how hard we played last night,” Marks said after the game. “We’re playing back-to-back, three games in five nights right now. It’s not an excuse but I’m just glad we got out of here with a win. You can tell the fatigue is setting in.”
With Jankila finishing with 18 points and Morgan Marks tallying 16, Coach Marks said the pair put up a strong effort to help earn the W.
“Elli was taking a beating inside and Morgan was shooting the ball well. Everyone works really hard but you can just tell we’re a little tired. A win is a win, whether it be by 1 point or by 30.”
With Jankila being the team's focal point on offense, it goes without saying that teams facing the Bears are trying to find ways to take her out of things, according to Marks.
“The way she’s played this year has painted a target on her and good teams are going to try and take her away. The other girls know when teams do that, they have to step up. They have to hit shots. She’s good enough where she’ll still get her points but it takes a lot out of someone to have an entire team focused on you all game long.”
Playing with limited depth to their bench, Marks says things got a little more complicated with Jankila and Morgan Marks nursing injuries.
“We’re trying to keep everything together. Combine the injuries with the fatigue and you get a game like tonight. We know we’re a better team than what we showed on the court tonight.”
Looking ahead to a game with Mesabi East on Monday, Marks says his squad is looking forward to a few days of practice without any games.
“Tomorrow will be a little more film and some rest. I hope the girls respond at practice after that. We’ve had a couple close losses before tonight and they’ve really hurt the girls because they felt like they were good enough to win against some really tough teams. You could see after tonight that they weren’t happy with how they won tonight but sometimes you have to get it through their heads that it’s better to look bad and get the win than look good and lose.
“Credit to Deer River, they played us well and took advantage of how tired we were. There was never a point where I felt like we had the game. Hopefully we can get rid of some of this fatigue and come back ready for Mesabi East on Monday.”
DR 21 19 — 40
EG 23 25 — 48
Deer River: Abby Sheeder 2, Katie Storlie 4, Torii Anttila 12, Jessica Reigel 10, Constance Bowstring 1, Grace Bergland 9, Kristin Schaaf 2; Three pointers: Anttila 2; Free throws: 8-9; Total fouls: 13; Fouled out: Josie Drotts.
Eveleth-Gilbert: Anna Westby 2, Lydia Delich 4, Morgan Marks 16, Elli Jankila 18, Cadyn Krmpotich 8; Three pointers: Marks 2; Free throws: 6-14; Total fouls: 9; Fouled out: none.
North Woods 85,
Littlefork-Big Falls 54
At Cook, the Grizzlies rolled to an 85-54 victory Tuesday over visiting Littlefork-Big Falls.
North Woods (4-4) plays at Bigfork Thursday. No further details were available as this edition went to press.
Eveleth-Gilbert Area 5,
At Princeton, the Golden Bears had another solid outing as they blanked the Tigers, 5-0 Tuesday.
No further details were available as this edition went to press.
The Golden Bears play at Superior on Thursday.