AITKIN -- Nothing would be better for the Aitkin Gobblers girls' basketball team than to avenge a loss from earlier this season.
The Gobblers have lost only four games, and one of those came to Class AA's No. 1 ranked and Section 7's No. 1 seeded Pequot Lakes Patriots. The Gobblers are seeded No. 2 in Section 7, and if seedings mean anything there could be a rematch between Pequot and Aitkin.
In the earlier meeting Pequot snuck by the Gobblers in Aitkin during the Christmas tournament. The game was decided by only two points.
With playoffs just around the corner the Gobblers are preparing for what should be a tough road to state. They have hit a couple of bumps on the way, losing two of their last three to East Central, which is 17-1 and ranked No. 9, and to Braham. In both games the Gobblers shot poorly from the field, which is a concern for many of the Gobbler players.
Aitkin Gobbler head coach Cathy Hughes prepares the No. 2 seeded Gobblers girls' basketball team as it gets ready for the Section 7AA playoffs.
"I'm concerned we're going to have a cold night because that has happened to us," said senior Chelsie Pratt. "Everybody's shooting was bad on a particular night. I hope everyone's focused and our shooting is on.
"Recently we've kind of lost our focus a little bit. We're in a transition period and we're trying to get our heads back up. We had a big talk as a team after our game on Friday. We're just trying to get past that so we can have a good mind going into the playoffs."
With the section seedings already complete the Gobblers will face Blackduck in the first round at Grand Rapids. Expectations are high for the Gobblers who believe they have the ability to win it.
"As long as we play what we can play," said point guard Marissa Chatelle, "we can compete with anybody if we play our best.
"We're a team that came together in one year. We have all-around players that can shoot and do different things. If two or three of us are cold then someone else can step it up. We have a fairly solid bench and our starting five are solid, too."
The Gobblers played East Central again Tuesday, hoping to build some momentum into the playoffs. This sudden flurry of poor shooting and playing tougher teams has sparked a fire in the Aitkin players, which is one thing they needed.
"We had a dead time where we didn't improve," said senior post Mandy Boyd. "I think we've gotten over that now since our last game. We had a flat line during the season, but hopefully we're done with that and we're going to do well."
Head coach Cathy Hughes' major concern is a bug flying around.
"My only concern is making sure that everyone is healthy," said Hughes. "With (Jennifer) Straughn having the flu you don't want to see that run through your team and run into some sickness. We need everyone to be healthy to be able to play. That's my only big concern is to have people that are ready to go."
The Gobblers have come together when most people thought this might be a down year. Straughn is happy with the way this team has developed over the course of the season.
"We have come together as a team really well," the junior forward said. "We definitely have worked together and put all of our talents in as one."
The two recent losses can be looked at in two ways. Either a team can lose confidence or it can learn from it and go back to work. The Gobblers chose to work harder.
"I think it's good for you to have a loss going into the playoffs," said Hughes. "It really makes you sit down and refocus and realize you're just a bunch of kids playing out here and you have to work harder. It shakes you down to say this is the week you have to do what you need to do to get the ball in the hoop.
"Now's the time when you realize you don't want to lose again so you make yourself stronger."
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