Prep Sports Notebook

Aidan Newton and Marnaries Ferguson combined for 37 points to lead Denfeld past North Branch 63-59 in a Section 7AAA semifinal Friday night in North Branch. The Hunters overcame a four-point halftime deficit and out-scored the Vikings 37-29 in the second half for their eighth consecutive win.

Denfeld (16-12) will face defending champion Hemantown (21-6) in the 7AAA final Thursday at 7 p.m. at Duluth East High School.

Meanwhile, junior forward Abe Soumis scored a game-high 27 points and senior guard Blake Schmitz added 18 to power the Hawks past Cloquet 80-58 in a second 7AAA semifinal Friday night in Hermantown. Kollin Bonneville had 16 points and elite sophomore guard Jack Battaglia added 14 for the Jacks.

“We knew we had to be almost perfect to keep it close,” said Cloquet coach Steve Battaglia. “We missed too many bunnies early and got absolutely killed on the boards when they had some possessions of four or five shots. Once they get momentum things unraveled quickly. We played our tails off, but we simply lost to a better team.”
Hermantown defeated Denfeld twice during the regular season, 78-70 at historic Denfeld Gym on Dec. 6 and 94-55 in Hermantown on Jan. 24


Defending champion Hermantown lost to Mahtomedi 2-1 in a Minnesota Class A semifinal Friday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Steve Battaglia on the Jacks’ season: “We had to replace our top three scorers from a year ago and thought a .500 record and a playoff win would be a good year. We did both of those things and put ourselves in a position to even exceed our expectations. I had as much fun coaching this group of kids as I’ve had coaching any team ever. They were just a fun group to be around, and practice was something I looked forward to every day. I hope our seniors leave with a good taste in their mouth and a great experience that will translate into the next stage of their lives. I’m confident our young guys will put in the work to build for the future.”