The 2021 basketball season came to an abrupt end last week for each of the four Mille Lacs area high school teams who competed in and lost their opening-round games of the Section 5A Tournament.

The Isle boys and girls teams finished the season with a combined won-loss record of 3-35 while the Onamia boys and girls teams wound up with a total of nine wins and 29 losses.


Prior to the beginning of the 2021 boys basketball season, Isle Huskies’ coach Tom Jones posed these three goals for his team: win the conference, beat rival Onamia High twice and finally beat Hinckley/Finlayson after nine straight years with no wins against the Jaguars.

Isle finished last in the conference, split their pair of games with Onamia and had three tries at beating Hinckley/Finlayson, coming close to winning each time, including Monday, March 15, where, in the opening round of the Section 5A Tournament, the Huskies had the Jags on the ropes throughout the contest only to lose in the final minutes by four points, 51-47.

The Jaguars entered the tourney seeded sixth among the 12 teams in the section and Isle was seeded 11th.

A strong first-half offensive showing from Willy Stalker, Derek Smith and TJ Remer earned the Huskies a stunning 27-27 tie by intermission.

Smith canned two unanswered 3-pointers to start the second period to put Isle ahead by six points, and the Huskies held a 3-point lead midway through the final half. In fact, Isle held a slim, one-point lead with six minutes remaining until the Jaguars hit two 3-pointers in the period of a few seconds to give themselves some breathing room with three minutes remaining.

Smith then drew his team to within two points of the lead with his eighth 3-pointer of the game, but Isle could not find a bucket or a free-throw during the final two minutes.

Isle finished the contest shooting 36% from the field and scoring 16 field goals, of which 12 were from long range.

Hinckley/Finlayson shot 44% from the field with 20 field goals, six of which were 3-pointers.

The game was the last in an Isle basketball uniform for seniors Stalker, Haggberg, Smith and Charlie Schmitz.   

Isle   27    20    47

H/F    27    24    51

Scoring: D. Smith 24, Stalker 12, TJ Remer 6, Haggberg 4, Gallion 1.


The Isle Huskies girls basketball team closed out its season with a 61-27 loss to the Upsala Cardinals in the opening round of the Section 5A Tournament on March 15.

The Huskies were more than doubled up in each of the halves, including scoring just four field goals in the first period.

Upsala had 20 field goals for the game, including eight 3-pointers, and made good on 13 of 22 free-throws.

Isle had 11 field goals, no 3s and were 5-11 from the charity stripe.

The game was the last in a Huskie basketball uniform for seniors Tommi Spengler and Megan Van Buskirk.

Isle        12    15    27

Upsala     30    31    61

Scoring: Megan Van Buskirk 6, B. Smith 6, C. Merrill 5, Mal. Van Buskirk 5, Spengler 3, Perkio 2.


The Onamia Panthers boys basketball team will have to settle for just two wins in the 2021 season after losing 66-30 to the Swanville Bulldogs in the opening round of the Section 5A Tournament on March 15.

The Bulldogs more than doubled up on the Panthers during both halves on the way to the rout.

For seniors Nick Ecker, Brady Husom, Brendan Carlson, Kyle Smith, Trysten Benton, Bobby Eagle and Devin Gahbow, Monday evening’s loss was their last game in an Onamia High basketball uniform.   

Onamia     17    13    30

Swanville    36    30    66

Scoring: Ecker 14, C. Eagle 7, Husom 4, Drift 3, Carlson 2.


The Onamia Panthers girls basketball team’s season ended on March 17 with a 52-35 loss to the Hinckley/Finlayson Jaguars in the opening round of the Section 5A Tournament.

The Panthers entered the game seeded fifth in the section and the Jags were seeded fourth.

The Panthers had lived by outside shooting, which earned them their seven wins during the regular season. But they had a poor night from the field, shooting just 20%, while the Jaguars shot 36%, including many points on put-backs in the paint.

Three seniors, including Rachel Oehrlein, Kailee Barnett and Roxann Emerson, played their final basketball game in a Panthers uniform.

Onamia    13    22    35

H/F           26    26    52

Scoring: Mitchell 12, Saboo 8, Barnett 4, Smith 4, Biniek 3, Oehrlein 2, Emerson 2.

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