Taking care of business
Eskymos top Houghton behind balanced effort
ESCANABA — Different defense, different result.
The Escanaba boys adjusted their game plan from an earlier meeting with Houghton, earning a 57-36 basketball victory over the Gremlins here Friday night.
Houghton won the first time, 60-52 in the Copper Country Dec. 11.
“We played a man-to-man the first time and they kept hitting open shot after open shot,” said Esky coach Tracy Hudson.
“Up there, their 1-2-2 zone bothered us and their role players killed us. This time we played zone and didn’t give them as many open looks. I thought we were the aggressor from the opening tip. We were very physical around the basket. We also talked about covering the perimeter. We wanted to guard the three.”
A buzzer-beating jump shot from top of the key by senior guard Craig Kamin gave the Eskymos a 13-9 lead after the first quarter of the non-conference contest.
Houghton was within 20-14 following a 23-foot jumper from the right wing by 6-foot-6 junior forward Brad Sirard midway through the second stanza.
Esky finished that quarter with a 12-4 run, gaining a 32-18 halftime lead on a jumper from the right wing by senior guard Zach Rose.
The Eskymos (10-6), with three of Friday’s starters standing 6-5 or taller, continued to pull away in the third.
They pushed their lead to 47-20 on a putback by senior forward Jared Nash with 1:48 remaining.
“Number one, we didn’t come out looking to attack,” said Houghton coach Jared Lawson. “We haven’t see this much height across the board. We tried to take away their transition game, but they still got some transition baskets. We started to get out of our match-up zone a little.”
Nash paced the Eskymos with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Senior center Austin Willette and junior guard Peyton Fedell scored 12 points each and Kamin finished with eight points and six assists. They collected 10 steals.
“Jared was tenacious,” said Hudson. “Austin was little under the weather, but picked it up in the second half. Craig and Tyler (McDonald) had great floor games and Zach (Rose) went in and gave us a lift. They play great defense, but we found some gaps in it. At Houghton, we settled for the 3-point shot. Tonight, we made a commitment to getting the ball inside and I felt we did a good job of it. I think our team did executed the game plan to perfection.”
Sirard led the Gremlins (9-9) with 18 points and 10 boards. Senior guard George Butvilas added 12 points.
“He (Sirard) is heck of a player,” said Lawson. “We give him the green light from 30 feet. We never question his shots. Even with the pressure by Escanaba he got some clean looks.”
Turnovers were basically even with 15 by Houghton and 14 for the Eskymos.
Esky also won the jayvee game 63-28 and freshman contest 56-31.
The Eskymos host fourth-ranked Marquette Monday. The Gremlins visit Lake Linden-Hubbell Tuesday.
Houghton 9 9 6 12 — 36
Escanaba 13 19 15 8 — 57
Houghton — Butvilas 12, Hyslop 3, Sirard 18, Keskimaki 3. FT: 5-8; F: 12; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Sirard 4, Hyslop.
Escanaba — Fedell 12, Kamin 8, Hudson 1, Rose 5, Nash 18, Willette 12, Johnson 1. FT: 5-8; F: 8; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Fedell 2, Kamin, Rose.