Eskymos stay hot, top Flivs
ESCANABA — Kingsford — riding hot-handed Luke Terrian — took its best shot Friday night at the hot Escanaba Eskymos.
But the Flivvers couldn’t cool off the hosts, who relied on depth, balance and a strong second half to post a 79-64 Great Northern Conference victory.
Esky (12-1, 5-1 GNC) also faced some adversity en route to reeling off its eighth-straight victory heading into a big week ahead against Iron Mountain and Marquette.
The Eskymos played almost half the game without senior point guard Ryan Robinette, who still finished with 17 points and 10 assists after picking his fourth foul with 6:15 left in the third quarter and not returning until 6:38 in the fourth quarter.
“I kind of made the bad move of not sitting him with two, but I thought our team grew up after it,” Esky coach Tracy Hudson said. “They faced probably the biggest adversity they’ve faced this year. We had to sit Ryan for almost two quarters. I thought our team grew up a lot against a very hot team. Kingsford is playing as well as anybody in the U.P.
‘For us to have one of the top players sit almost half the game, I’m really super proud of the effort the kids showed.”
Unfortunately, for Kingsford, the Flivvers (7-5, 2-3) couldn’t get over the hump with Robinette on the bench.
Kingsford led 18-14 after the first quarter and battled back from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to trail 35-34 at halftime. In the third quarter, Esky kept its edge and bolted to a 58-53 lead after three quarters on Carter Hudson’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“Ryan Robinette is probably one of the most talented guards in the U.P. and we understand that,” Kingsford coach Dan Olkkonen said. “In the third quarter, he’s out of the game and they switched up their defenses, which didn’t matter to us. We had a lot of one and dones. And we had too many turnovers. Tonight we had too many unforced turnovers.
“That’s a good team. We played pretty good tonight and I’m proud of the guys. I think we’re giving teams something to think about.
“It was the third or fourth game in a row we played pretty poised. We were down by 10 and we come back and almost tied it the half. We just couldn’t do it in the fourth quarter.”
Esky outscored Kingsford 21-11 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
The Eskymos had a balanced attack, with Austin Willette scoring a career-high 19 points, Jared Nash collecting 14 points and 10 rebounds and Craig Kamin adding 11 points and five assists.
Overall, the Eskymos played unselfish with 23 team assists and had a 29-28 rebounding edge.
“I thought we shared the ball well,” said Hudson, whose team had 12 turnovers. “I thought we did a good job committing to the post and finding Willette. He did a good job finding the seams and we got him the ball.”
Terrian did a good job with the ball for Kingsford. Forget “Cool Hand Luke.” Terrian was “Hot Hand Luke” after scoring a game-high 31 points.
“Luke obviously is a special player and he does a good job scoring for us,” said Olkkonen, whose team had 10 turnovers. “He had 34 last week against Marquette. Tyler Beauchamp couldn’t get into his rhythm tonight. He rolled his ankle in practice and couldn’t get going tonight.”
Beauchamp — another potent scorer for the Flivvers — finished with nine points and Andrew Mann added eight points.
Kingsford did a good job solving Esky’s 1-3-1 halfcourt defense, but couldn’t get enough scoring from its offense for four quarters.
“I thought we pushed the tempo better in the second half,” Hudson said. “I thought our depth was a key again.”
Hudson cited reserves Garrett LaMarche, Ben Willis and freshman Carter Hudson (eight points) for giving the Eskymos a lift.
Esky’s JV team improved to 12-0 with 58-32 win against Kingsford and the Eskymo freshman team improved to 13-0 with an 80-34 victory.
On Tuesday, Kingsford travels to West Iron County and Esky hosts Iron Mountain in a showdown of the two top-ranked teams in Class ABC.
Kingsford 18 16 19 11 — 64
Escanaba 14 21 23 21 — 79
Kingsford — Kreski 5, LaVarnway 3, VanRemortel 1, Terrian 31, Beauchamp 9, Mann 8, Gayan 7. FT: 13-22; F: 18; Fouled out: Kreski. 3-point field goals: Terrian 2, Beauchamp 3.
Escanaba — Robinette 17, Fedell 4, Kamin 11, Willis 4, Hirn 2, Nash 14, Willette 19, Hudson 8. FT: 12-20; F: 21; Fouled out: Willette. 3-point field goals: Robinette, Willette, Hudson.