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Mariner three-game win streak keeps playoff hopes alive

A three-game winning streak means Silver Bay will face top-ranked Wrenshall in Thursday's Section 7A girls basketball playoff, a game coach Rod Lampton is happy to be in.

"I told the girls, at least we're playing number one and we're not home thinking about softball season," he said. "We'll give them a good game, that's all we can do."

The girls fell to Babbitt-Embarrasss 64-40 a week ago Tuesday but have been on a roll since then.

On Thursday they dispatched host Tower-Soudan 46-39. Then the girls hosted McGregor on Friday and topped the Mercuries 56-50 behind Katherine Michalski's 29-point performance. The Mariners then hosted Lakeview Christian Academy in a first-round south Section 7A subsection game on Tuesday night, winning a 56-28 contest.

"I think we've been working all year towards this," said Lampton. "I think it got started a couple of weeks ago against Esko when we were able to hold our own against their press. We've been playing good defense and now our offense has caught up a little bit. We're taking better shots and we've also cut down on our turnovers."

Lampton said the emergence of Michalski as a go-to scorer has been a big part of the recent surge of wins.

The junior guard/forward has always been the team's scorer but Lampton said she finally decided to start taking the basket into the lane and make things happen.

"She's a good team player but she needs to be our driving force and that means taking it to the hole more," said Lampton. "That's also gotten her to the free throw line more and has opened up the floor for some of our other players as well."

Michalski scored 26 in the loss to Babbitt-Embarrasss, notched 26 in the Tower win, had 29 against McGregor and then scored 24 in the playoff win over Lakeview.

"She's been boxed in and guarded pretty tightly lately and she's still breaking free to score," said Lampton. "She's really been a big part of our run."

Junior Emelia Davis had a big night against Tower, scoring 18 in her best game of the year, according to Lampton.

"She's a good shooter when she finds it," said Lampton. "She puts it up for us."

Against McGregor, Katrina Davis helped secure the win with some clutch free throw shooting at the end of the game. Davis knocked down 4-of-5 free throws in the final seconds of the game to keep the Mariners on the winning streak.

It was the first Polar League Conference win for the Mariners in several years.

In the playoff opener against Lakeview, the Mariners used a stifling defense to get control of the game, leading 24-6 at halftime.

"We limited their opportunities and then controlled the boards so they didn't get any follow-up shots," said Lampton. "Katherine was driving the lane and that got her to the free throw line a few times.

Michalski was 10-for-15 from the line.

Christina Bullock had 10 points and 10 rebounds, controlling the play under the basket like she's done much of the year. Bullock has been averaging 10.5 rebounds per game.

"We kept them out of the lane," said Lampton.

How will they do against the section's No. 1-seed on Thursday?

"The girls are excited to be going to Hermantown to play," said Lampton. "We'll just go out there and get after them and do the best we can. We want to make them play and I know we'll play hard until the buzzer goes off."