Esky defuels Rockets

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press Escanaba’s Jared Nash (40) drives through Rapid River’s Nathan Olson (23) and Tony DeMars (42) as Tyler Sundling (10) looks on Friday at Rapid River. Nash scored 21 points in a 72-53 Esky win.

RAPID RIVER — The Escanaba boys used a simple, but affective game plan here Friday night in a 72-53 basketball triumph over Rapid River.

Esky, intent on pounding the ball into the paint, gained quite of bit of separation in the second quarter of this non-conference contest.

“Our game plan was to go at them inside,” said Esky coach Tracy Hudson. “We wanted to go inside, then outside but we really didn’t have to go outside that much. They have some good perimeter shooters and we didn’t feel we wanted to get into a shootout with them. They also have a good point guard. It was our inside/outside game vs. their perimeter game. This was a quality win.”

Rapid River took a 17-16 lead with 16.6 seconds left in the opening frame when senior Brent Lundquist split a pair of free throws.

Esky opened the second stanza with 16 unanswered points, gaining a 32-17 cushion on a layup by senior Craig Kamin with two minutes, 10 seconds left in the period.

“Once we got the lead, our guys kept responding to them,” said Hudson. “We picked up the pace a little and really went after them in the post. Then, we slowed it down in the second half.”

The Rockets got in foul trouble in the second, with Lundquist picking up his third just 23 seconds into the quarter and junior Tony DeMars getting his second just two minutes later.

“Brent getting his third foul really hurt us,” said Rockets’ coach Rich Poma. “Once we got into foul trouble, they were able to get weakside rebounds and that killed us. Everybody knows they’re going to play a 1-3-1 (zone) and their size made it hard for us to get the ball into the paint. Although, I thought the boys played real well. They (Esky) have great athletes all the way around. I’m glad they agreed to playing us for two years.”

Esky (8-6) led by as much as 50-28 midway through the third quarter. The Rockets, however, trimmed their deficit to 56-42 on junior Tyler Sundling’s 22-foot jumper from the left wing late in the third.

“We thought we would give them a few 3s, but I felt we were pretty active in our 1-3-1,” said Hudson. “Peyton Fedell gave us a lot of energy and Matt Seymour gave us some key minutes on defense.”

The Eskymos held a 33-14 rebounding advantage and limited the Rockets to five second-chance points. They hit 30-of-60 field goals and committed just nine turnovers. Rapid River was 19-of-42 from the field and had 14 miscues.

“Second-chance points were huge for them,” said Poma. “They finished their shots well. I think we’re disciplined and athletic enough to hang in there. We’re excited about playing them at their place next year. We learned a lot tonight.

We know what we need to work on. This is a win-win for us.” Senior Jared Nash led the Eskymos with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Austin Williette also hit 21 points. Sophomore Carter Hudson added 14 points and nine boards and Kamin had 10 points.

“I thought we had good balance and handled the ball well,” said coach Hudson. “We were concerned because we didn’t have Ben Willis (due to an elbow injury), but Garrett Johnson helped us out.”

Sundling paced the Rockets (9-5) with 18 points. Junior Vincent Micheau hit 10 and Braydon Moss had nine.

The Esky jayvees also won 55-44 and Esky’s freshmen posted a 53-46 triumph over the North Central jayvees at Powers.

Esky hosts West Iron County Tuesday. Rapid River hosts Munising Tuesday.

Escanaba 16 21 19 16 — 72

Rapid River 17 8 17 11 — 53

Escanaba — Fedell 6, Kamin 10, Hudson 14, Nash 21, Willette 21. FT: 11-13; F: 9; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goal: Hudson.

Rapid River — Sundling 18, Moss 9, Lundquist 8, Olson 5, Micheau 10, DeMars 8. FT: 6-8; F: 17; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Sundling 4, Moss 3, Olson, Micheau.