Rangers top Jackets in section finals

Cambridge-Isanti’s Aiyana Knight dives with a Forest Lake player for a loose ball during the Jackets’ Section 7AAAA championship game versus the Rangers at Forest Lake.

Coming into the Section 7AAAA girls basketball finals, everyone in the gym knew what Forest Lake’s defensive game plan would be for stopping the Bluejacket offensive attack: focus on containing standout junior Mikayla Aumer. Even the limited Ranger student section focused much of their attention on Aumer, vocally keeping track of her missed shots at the start of the game.

Besides that, the Rangers employed a staunch, physical defensive presence towards the rest of the Jacket squad, successfully snuffing out what appeared to be quality open looks at the basket off of ball movement away from Aumer.

All of that, coupled with referees who were somewhat forgiving of the physical play, led to a 58-50 win for the #1 seeded Rangers over #2 seed Cambridge-Isanti. The win sent the Rangers on to the State Class AAAA Tournament for the second time in three years. The loss relegated C-I to receiving the runner-up trophy also for the second time in three years. Last year, the roles were reversed as the Jackets took home the championship while Forest Lake was the runner-up.

Even though Forest Lake was successful in their defensive strategy, the Jackets started the game equally successful in controlling the Rangers offense, resulting in a tight defensive first half with the Rangers holding a 21-18 lead at halftime.

However, while the Rangers started to find their offensive groove in the second half, the Jackets would continue to be held in check, only managing a couple mini runs that kept the game from getting out of hand.

The final boxscore told the tale of the game. Even though Aumer finished with 28 points, she was held to only three assists, and C-I’s next highest point total was seven from Croix Vavra. By comparison, Forest Lake’s Logan Anderson matched Aumer, scoring 27, with Greta Krieger adding 14.

Despite the loss, the Jackets finished what some were considering a rebuilding year by going 15-5 on the season and playing in their third-straight section championship game. C-I also looks poised to make it four-straight next year, only graduating one starter and four total players.

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