Eskymos sparkle, pound Blue Devils

Rob Roos | Sault Evening News Lexi Chaillier of Escanaba soars in for a layup Thursday at Sault Ste. Marie High School.

SAULT STE. MARIE – Escanaba put it all together Thursday night, at Sault High’s expense.

The Eskymos turned in their best performance of the early season, carving up Sault High 59-38 in a non-conference girls basketball game.

Esky controlled the game from start to finish, and turned it into a blowout in the third quarter.

Taylor Ray scored 18 points, while Nicole Kamin had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Lexi Challier added nine points and eight rebounds for the Eskymos (2-1).

“The girls finally played four quarters,” Escanaba coach Mike Beveridge said. “We hadn’t done that yet, against a good team like the Sault. Tonight we did though. We got our offense moving, and we kept it on for four quarters. That was huge for us, to play a complete game.”

Escanaba and Sault High split two games last season, with the Eskymos winning in the opener and the Blue Devils avenging that loss in the district. Both teams return a few key components, but the Eskymos appear to be way ahead in developing the chemistry of this year’s team.

The Eskymos beat the Blue Devils up and down the court Thursday, getting many layups as they raced to a 19-11 first quarter lead. Sault High tried to press early, but they couldn’t contain the Eskymos’ quickness.

While the scoreboard showed a relatively close game, Esky seemed to have all the momentum as they took a 31-20 lead into halftime.

“They tried pressing us early, and they found that we were just faster than them,” Beveridge said. “We have five girls who can get up and down the floor, and when we beat their press, that got us off to a great start.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Blue Devils, who could never seem to get in sync. Kayla Wilhelms scored nine points, while Melina Robertson and Ashtyn Bell had eight points each for the Blue Devils (3-1).

“Give Escanaba all the credit,” Sault High coach Pat Bennin said. “They took it to us right from the start, and scored at will on us. Our defense fell apart, and our offense wasn’t good. Bottom line is, they flat out beat us.”

Esky switched its defense between man and zone. A 1-3-1 zone with the 6-foot Kamin at the top proved particulaly effective. The Blue Devils could not get the ball inside to their own 6-0 center Julia Beaumont.

“They had a hard time throwing over the top of her (Kamin) and she intimidated some of their shooters with her length,” Beveridge said. “She can also get the rebound, and go the other way to lead the break very quickly. She’s a very effective player.

The Eskymos outscored the Blue Devils 20-8 in the third quarter to take complete command, leading 51-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

Esky shot the ball well, dominated the rebounding, and played with hustle the whole game.

“I was really pleased with the effort of all the girls tonight,” Beveridge said. “Lexi Challier kind of set the tone, working so hard. She got a lot of rebounds by getting her own misses. I’m so proud of them all. They work hard in practice and know what I want out of them. The hard work pays off.”

Sault High jayvees won 58-23 and the Sault frosh won 67-0.

Escanaba visits Gwinn Wednesday.

Escanaba 19 12 20 8 – 59

Sault Ste. Marie 11 9 8 10 – 38

Escanaba – Monkevich 4, Kamin 14, P. Challier 2, L. Challier 9, Wilson 5, Weber 6, Zuidema 1, Ray 18. FT: 9-17; F: 17; 3-point field goals: Ray 2, Kamin 1, Wilson 1.

Sault Ste. Marie – Robertson 8, Wilhelms 9, Eavou 2, Bell 8, Kaunisto 4, McLean 3, Beaumont 4. FT: 6-16; F: 17; Fouled out: Eavou; 3-point field goals: Robertson 2, Wilhelms 1, Bell 1.