Esky flies past Rockets
ESCANABA — The Escanaba boys found their offensive rhythm in the second half here Friday as they rolled to a 73-41 basketball triumph over the Rapid River Rockets on Senior, Parents’ and Cancer Awareness Night.
Esky led 30-26 at halftime before breaking open the non-conference contest in the third quarter.
Rapid River was within 32-29 early in the third stanza following a 23-foot jump shot from the right wing by senior point guard Tyler Sundling.
The Eskymos then erupted for 15 unanswered points in their final regular-season home game, gaining a 47-29 advantage on a 15-foot jumper from the left baseline by sophomore guard Connor Smale.
“I thought Rapid River played a very good first half,” said Esky coach Tracy Hudson. “We have to give them credit for stepping up and playing a bigger school. We knew we were in a ball game at halftime. We also have to give them credit because they made us make some adjustments against their 1-3-1 zone. We started working the ball into the high post a little and tightened our defense on the perimeter. They were patient and shot the ball well. We were very concerned about them because they’ve had a good year.”
Esky’s advantage grew to 54-33 at the end of the third frame following a fastbreak layup by senior guard Peyton Fedell.
The fourth quarter offered more of the same as the Eskymos (11-5) continued to run the floor with authority while extending their lead to as much as 71-36 on Smale’s jumper from the right corner.
“The guys stepped up and hit some shots in the first half, but it looked like that’s all we had in the tank,” said Rockets’ coach Mitch Hall. “For the most part we limited their seconds shots, although they did well on their first shots. We looked at this as an opportunity to get better and we were challenged in every phase of the game.”
Senior guard Braydon Moss gave the Rockets (9-5) a 19-17 lead on a jumper from the left corner with 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Esky tied the score on a pair of free throws by sophomore Jared Hanson three seconds later and took its first lead on a layup by junior center Carter Hudson 90 seconds into the second stanza.
A layup by Sundling tied the score at 21 on Rapid River’s next possession before the Eskymos went ahead to stay.
Esky scored five in double digits with Fedell leading the way with 15 points. Junior forward Bryant Maki added 13 points and five assists. Carter Hudson collected 12 points and nine rebounds. Colin Hudson had 11 points. Smale finished with 10 points and senior forward Justin Marenger had four assists.
“We were happy with the way our seniors played on Senior Night,” said coach Hudson. “I think our height and length can wear on people and our 1-3-1 is a little longer than most. There are a lot of similarities between the two teams. Tyler Sundling is a very scary player. He can take over a game. I think they have something to build on. They’re a good team.”
Sundling, Moss and junior forward Max Lenaker paced the Rockets with nine points apiece.
“Max is the one who got us going in the first half,” said Hall. “In the second half, they were able to push the ball and we got tired. We were battling sickness a little and Mason (Kudlick) is still out with a foot injury, but we had a good first half and we’ll build on that.”
A collection, taken for Phil Arnt who continues to battle Stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, raised nearly $1,000 to help pay for medical expenses.
Esky, which also won the jayvee game 82-58, travels to West Iron County Tuesday. Rapid River visits Munising Tuesday.
Rapid River 19 7 7 8 — 41
Escanaba 19 11 24 19 — 73
Rapid River — Sundling 9, Moss 9, Lenaker 9, Flath 4, Dausey 2, Demars 8. FT: 2-6; F: 11; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Moss 3, Lenaker 3, Sundling.
Escanaba — Frazer 3, Fedell 12, Smale 10, Carter Hudson 12, Marenger 4, Maki 13, Hanson 5, Colin Hudson 11. FT: 6-8; F: 11; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Smale 2, Fedell, Colin Hudson.