DULUTH -- When you don't have the ball it's difficult to score.
That's what happened to the Aitkin Gobblers boys' basketball team Saturday afternoon on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The Gobblers turned the ball over 22 times in both halves and fell victim to the Chisholm Bluestreaks 61-44 in a Section 7AA quarterfinal game.
"Early on that wasn't a factor," said Aitkin head coach Greg Hills. "It was such a ragged, hack-filled game, there were bodies all over the floor for both teams, it really makes it difficult to get any kind of a flow going. Either team ever got any flow one way or the other."
When the Gobblers didn't lose the ball they were able to find the bottom of the net with ease. Aitkin shot 5-9 in the first quarter and held close to Chisholm 15-11 after the first quarter.
"The first half especially we didn't establish any kind of an inside game," said Hills. "In the second half we did a little bit of a better job but we needed to get it inside and keep them around the paint to use our size to our advantage.
"We really wanted to focus on going inside. As far as setting up on offense we wanted to screen down on their bottom man. We didn't get any outside shooting that hurt us.
"Not having Adam Spolarich (out with an injury) that was a huge factor because he's a good shot from out there."
Down by four Aitkin wanted to establish a post game with big men Brandon Siemers and Jesse Smithson, but the Bluestreaks' full-court press caused havoc all day.
Either Chisholm caused a turnover or hurried the Gobblers' offense into taking quick shots. The Bluestreaks' defense held Aitkin scoreless until 4:55 into the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Chisholm's offense built a seven-point lead behind the shooting of junior Rich Pender who scored eight of his 10 points in the frame.
"We felt if we could keep them out of their half-court offense we would do all right," said Chisholm head coach Bob McDonald. "Sometimes with a press we want to steal the ball too much which leads to penetration and easy buckets.
"By and large if you look at the situation we did keep them out of their half-court game. I thought when they got the ball inside they did a good job with it but they had trouble getting it inside off and on. That helped us out considerably."
Chisholm outscored the Gobblers 13-7 in the second quarter to finish the half with a 28-18 lead.
In the beginning of the third quarter Chisholm built a 14-point lead but the Gobblers battled back, going on a 5-2 run to to pull within 11.
Aitkin still couldn't establish a low-post game as the Bluestreaks wore down the Gobblers.
In the fourth quarter the Gobblers got within 10 behind the free throw shooting of Siemers and Smithson, but it wasn't enough as they couldn't get any outside help in addition to senior Ryan Fowlds' nine points.
"That was a tough part of our game," said Fowlds. "Siemers and Jesse are a huge part of our game. If we're not shooting well from the outside it makes it real tough. (Chisholm) did a real good job on us inside.
"They were overplaying a ton and we were 30 feet away from the hoop. It's hard to get anything going when they're doing that."
Chisholm senior Wade Cooper led the game with 14 points, followed by Pender, Jeff Gornick, Keith Soroko and Mike Pavlovich who each scored 10.
Siemers led the Gobblers with 12 points followed by Smithson's 10.
Aitkin 11 7 16 10 -- 44
Chisholm 15 13 18 16 -- 61
Wes Hoppe 4, Ryan Fowlds 9, Brandon Siemers 12, Jesse Smithson 10, Anthony Blake 2, Adam Holder 2, Mark Weimer 2, Jeremiah Bender 3. Totals: FG 14-46 (30 percent), FT 13-19 (68 percent).
Wade Cooper 14, Rich Pender 10, Jeff Gornick 10, Jon Pessenda 10, Mike Pavlovich 10, Joe Benchina 7. Totals FG 21-54 (39 percent), FT 17-22 (77 percent).
3-point baskets -- A-3 (Fowlds 3), C-2 (Benchina, Cooper). Turnovers -- A 44, C 11. Total fouls -- A 19, C 19.
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