Esky stuns Sault cagers

girls basketball

Rob Roos/Sault News Escanaba’s Lexi Challier leads a fast break, while Sault High’s Mackenzie Kalchik chases the play during a non-conference girls basketball game Saturday. The Eskymos spilled the Blue Devils 38-37.

By Rob Roos

The Sault News

SAULT STE. MARIE — Escanaba dug in on defense and upended Sault High 38-37 in a girls basketball season opener Saturday afternoon

Lexi Chaillier scored 12 points and added four rebounds and two steals, while Nicole Kamin had 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Eskymos (1-0).

“We played with more tenacity than they did,” Escanaba coach Mike Beveridge said. “We took them out of their game and they never did get into a flow.

“I think we pulled an upset today, I’ll admit it,” Beveridge said. “The Sault has size and skill. I told our girls ‘You just beat a really good team, and that means you are a really good team. Good things happen when you play that hard.”

Senior center Cece Werner scored 14 points and Ashtyn Bell had 11 points for the Blue Devils (0-1).

The Eskymos led by as many as nine points early in the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils staged a rally in the final five minutes.

Esky led 37-31 after Chaillier scored on a drive to the hoop, and Mykenzie Monkevich made a pair of free throws with 3:47 remaining.

The Blue Devils chipped away at the deficit and got within 38-37 after a 3-pointer from Bell with 1:01 left.

Esky missed three straight free throws in the final 33 seconds, giving the Sault several chances. The Blue Devils had two shots in the closing seconds, but both Bell and Werner missed short range attempts before the buzzer.

Poor shooting hurt the Blue Devils, who struggled from both the field and the line. The Sault finished 9-of-25 from the line.

Both teams had problems with the typical turnovers of a first game, turning the contest into a defensive battle.

The Eskymos outscored the Sault 14-8 in the second quarter, including a 6-0 run over the last two minutes before the half. Esky took a 23-19 lead into halftime.

The Eskymos committed 24 turnovers, but shot 15-of-31 from the field.

“It was good start for us,” Beveridge said. “It wasn’t always pretty today, but we put a win in the books. We had too many turnovers, but the girls believed in each other and worked together as a team. We have some good things to build on.”

Sault High tried to exploit its size advantage by working the ball inside to the 6-foot-2 Werner and 6-0 sophomore Julia Beaumont. While the Sault took advantage of some points in the paint, Esky’s defense kept the damage at a minimum.

“We were really flat in the first half,” Sault High coach Pat Bennin said. “I had a feeling this might happen, that we would have a little bit of a struggle early.

“We have a lot of new kids we’re trying to gell into the lineup, and it’s a work in progress.”

Both teams are back in action tonight as Escanaba visits Marinette, while Sault High travels to Newberry.

Sault High won the jayvee game 51-15 and freshman contest 77-7.

The summary:

Escanaba 9 14 5 10 — 38

Sault 11 8 8 10 — 37

Escanaba – Kamin 11, Monkevich 2, Chaillier 12, Wilson 3, Carter 2, Stannard 4, Barron 2, Griffin 2. FT: 6-12; F: 21; Fouled out: Monkevich, Barron; 3-point field goals: Kamin.

Sault – Andary 5, Gage 2, Wilhelms 3, Werner 14, Bell 11, Beaumont 2. FT: 9-25; F: 19. 3-point field goals: Bell 2.