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Defense carries Mariners past Floodwood

Silver Bay freshman Mason Ollman stepped to the line and drained two free throws with 19 seconds remaining to seal the Mariners' 40-37 victory over Floodwood in the opening round of the Section 7A tournament Wednesday in Proctor.

Junior Jason Blood scored 22 to lead all scorers in a highly physical, defensive battle. Blood was just 6-of-21 on the night, however, and the Mariners as a team struggled shooting the ball from distance and the physical play on the inside caused a lot of misses at the rim. Blood was the only scorer for either team that reached double digits.

"It was a physical game and that's just not our style," coach Terry Blood said. "Our defense saved us tonight, outside of six feet we hit one shot. When it's physical like that it's hard to score inside."

Silver Bay started slowly, 18-9 with less than four minutes to go in the half. The Mariner defense clamped down on the Polar Bears and Silver Bay ended the half on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 20 heading into the locker room. Ollman and fellow freshman guard Riley Tiboni quickly harassed Floodwood ball handlers, getting hands into passing lanes and causing several turnovers. Even when tipped balls didn't turn into turnovers or fast break opportunities, the Polar Bears were forced to reset their offense and run a new play.

"If we can put pressure on the ball everything changes," Terry Blood said. "When we can't put pressure on the ball, people throw it around on us and score. That's why I put (Ollman and Tiboni) in, they're quick."

Silver Bay looked to build a lead at the beginning of the second half, scoring five quick points on a layup from Jason Blood and senior Hunter Monson hitting the Mariners' only 3-pointer of the game.

Eventually, the Silver Bay lead grew to seven at 33-26, but Floodwood stormed back with a 7-0 run of its own, capped by Jeffrey Palmer's 3-pointer that tied the game with about three minutes to play.

Jason Blood responded with three straight points to give Silver Bay the lead for good and free throw shooting from him and Ollman secured the victory. Free throw shooting in general was key for the Mariners who shot 15-for-20 as a team, compared to Floodwood's 4-for-11 performance.

In addition to Jason Blood, other scorers included: Ollman with six points; Hunter Monson with five; Weston Monson with three; and Tiboni and David Schober with two points each.

Silver Bay will play Lakeview Christian Academy in the Section 7A quarterfinals at 5:45 p.m. Saturday in Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Lions defeated Northland 76-67 following Silver Bay's game Wednesday to advance.

Silver Bay lost to LCA twice in the regular season, including a 54-42 loss Feb 28. In the last game against the Lions, Silver Bay fell behind by 20 points before Terry Blood inserted Ollman and Tiboni into the lineup. With the smaller lineup, the Mariners were able to cut the LCA lead to six with about a minute to play before the Lions pulled away for good.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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