Escanaba girls win Houghton thriller
By Paul Peterson
For the Gazette
HOUGHTON — Julie Filpus isn’t the kind of coach who likes to lose a basketball game.
But the veteran Houghton coach could find a bright spot after dropping a thrilling 67-66 game to Escanaba at Houghton on Thursday.
“It was a tough game to lose in that we started fast and led well into the third quarter,” Filpus said. “But we hit a lull and (Escanaba) caught up and took the lead. Any time you play the Class A or Class B schools, you’re up against athletic players. It can help you get ready for the tournaments.”
Escanaba coach Mike Beveridge liked the way his team played in a tough environment.
“Houghton is the kind of program where you know you’re going to get their best every time out,” Beveridge said. “We took a punch or two in the beginning, but we hung in there and kept playing hard, and that was encouraging.”
Freshman center Nicole Kamin played a big role in the Eskymos’ sixth triumph in 12 tries. The 5-foot-11 Kamin led all scorers in the contest with 20 points and made some clutch plays down the stretch.
“She (Kamin) is only a freshman, but she plays good basketball,” Beveridge said. “Tonight, was one of those times.”
Down by a 24-9 score late in the opening quarter, the Escanaba began to use its quickness in the second quarter.
“I told the girls just to keep chipping away,” Beveridge said. “We got it closer in the second quarter and then kind of wore them down in the third.”
Leading 42-33 at the half behind 10 points from Kara Pietila, the Gremlins saw Esky surge to a 58-52 margin after three periods with a 25-10 run.
“I thought we lost our focus in the third quarter,” Filpus said. “We were rushing the ball downcourt and not getting good looks at the basket.”
Houghton settled down and played tough in a back-and-fourt fourth quarter.
Senior forward Harlee Froberg, Houghton’s top scorer in the game with 19 points, knocked down a 3-pointer to knot it at 62 with 3:08 remaining.
But a pair of huge free throws by Kamin put Escanaba ahead 66-64.
The Gremlins edged to within a point at 67-66 on a hoop by Cassie Ryynanen with 9 seconds to go.
A missed free throw by Escanaba gave Houghton one last chance. But it was unable to get off a good shot against the fouling Eskymos, who had two fouls to give.
Kendra Pietila followed Froberg’s 19-point production with 15 points. Ryynanen tossed in 13 more, while Mackenzie Klein put in 10 more points. Froberg also had seven rebounds.
Escanaba received a nice game from Lexi Chaillier, who scored 18 points by repeatedly beating the Gremlins to the hoop. Mykenzie Monkevich drew the praise of her coach by scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Foul troubles did hurt the Houghton cause, with Madison Dillinger fouling out and Pietila having to sit with three early fouls.
“That’s part of the game and the girls have to do a better job of defending without committing fouls,” Filpus said.
On Tuesday, Esky travels to Kingsford and Houghton (9-5) visits Marquette.
Escanaba 10 13 25 9 — 67
Houghton 24 18 10 14 — 66
Escanaba — Monkevich 9, Beauchamp 1, Chaillier 18, Wilson 5, Kamin 20, Stennard 8, Griffin 2, Barron 4. FT: 12-25; Fouls: 12; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Chaillier.
Houghton — Pietila 15, Froberg 19, Ryynanen 13, Klein 10, Dillinger 5, Monette 2, Jacobson 2. FT: 4-8; Fouls:18; Fouled out: Dillinger; 3-point field goals: Froberg 4, Ryynanen 3, Dillinger 1.