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'A pretty good year' for the Agates

Two Harbors sophomore Tori Bott shoots a free-throw during a Section 7AA quarterfinals game against International Falls Saturday, March 4 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)1 / 3
Two Harbors junior Carina Hebl (25) pushes past an International Falls player during a Section 7AA quarterfinals game Saturday, March 4 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)2 / 3
Two Harbors senior Stephanie Williams (23) sheds some tears after a season ending loss in the Section 7AA quarterfinals against Internationals Falls Saturday, March 4 at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)3 / 3

Two Harbors mounted a series of comebacks from double digit deficits against International Falls, but time ran out on the Agates as the fell to the Broncos 55-42 in the Section 7AA quarterfinals Saturday at Romano Gym at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Two Harbors shot poorly to start the game, going 2-for-16 from the field and falling behind 16-6 a little halfway through the first half. The Agates mounted their first comeback, going on an 11-1 run fueled by 3-pointers from Alyssa Ruberg and Carina Hebl and five points from Tori Bott to tie the game at 17. The Broncos, however answered with their own 11 point run to end the half and take a 28-17 lead into the locker room.

International Falls allowed Hebl and Ruberg to shoot from long range, focusing on limiting leading scorer Ayla Lemke with double and triple teams. Ayla Lemke only got one shot off and didn't score in the first half. While Hebl and Ruberg were able to hit a few shots from long range, Two Harbors continued to shoot poorly from the field and made on six field goals in the half.

"Most of the game they were in a box-and-one and they had one player who paid no attention to what was going on except for where Ayla was," Two Harbors coach Chris Lemke said. "When you do that you give up a lot of open shots for other players. Going in they said these guys aren't going to beat us inside, they're going to have to really shoot the ball well from behind the 3-point line. That was a good decision on their part, but you never know, we could go off and shoot 30 or 40 percent from three and the game is completely different."

Hebl hit another shot from long range to open the second half, but afterward the Broncos went on another big run extending their lead to 47-22 midway through the second half. Two Harbors made another run late in the second half, outscoring International Falls 20-4 and cutting the lead back to single digits at 51-42 with about a minute to play. Ayla Lemke scored all eight of her points during the run and Ruberg and Hebl each hit a pair of three pointers.

Time ran out on the comeback though and Two Harbors was forced to start putting Bronco players on the free throw line to stop the clock and International Falls extended the lead back to 13 before the final buzzer.

Hebl led Two Harbors with 15 points on five 3-pointers and Ruberg finished with 12. In addition, Bott finished with seven points.

Two Harbors finished the season 20-8, the most wins for an Agate team since the 1990s and only the second time in program history. The Agates' 11-0 start was also the best in school history, but injuries plagued Two Harbors throughout the season. Before the season even started, Katie Archer, a versatile two-way player for the Agates, suffered a knee injury playing soccer and was done for the year. Hebl missed significant time with a foot injury and Ayla Lemke missed a couple weeks with a minor knee injury. To make matters worse, just after Ayla Lemke's return to the lineup Brianna McGrath was lost for the season with a much more severe knee injury.

Still the Agates picked up their first playoff win since 2011 and the Agate coach said he hoped the girls can look back on their accomplishments this season with pride.

"Every once in awhile, I'll look back at some old tape from four or five years ago where we struggled to handle the ball or do so many things," Chris Lemke said. "I felt at the end, that anybody in the section on any given night, we could go out and beat them and that was very rewarding as a coach. Hopefully the players can see that, too, and see how far they've come and look back and say that was a pretty good year."

Boys blown out in Barnum

Senior Brandon Dugger scored 11 points, but offensive woes continued to plague Two Harbors in a 67-35 blowout at the hands of Barnum March 3.

The Agates fell behind 34-21 at halftime and struggled even more to score in the the second half, managing just 14 points over the final 18 minutes.

Other scorers included Jayden Ruberg with 10 points, Ian Johnson with nine, Karter Kinn with three and Matahn Jenkins with two.

Two Harbors (6-20) traveled to International Falls to play the Broncos in the opening round of the Section 7AA tournament Thursday, too late for the News-Chronicle's deadline.

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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