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Esky girls held off by No. 2 Sault Ste. Marie

SAULT STE. MARIE — It was a rematch of last season’s regional semifinals, and ended with a similar score.

Escanaba and Sault High came into this year’s regular season matchup as a pair of girls basketball teams ranked in the top five in the U.P.

The No. 2-ranked Blue Devils rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and downed the No. 5 Eskymos 60-51 in a non-conference game Thursday night.

Senior Nicole Kamin scored 22 points and Bailey Barron had 10 points to lead the Eskymos (3-3). Escanaba led 32-27 at the half, but the Blue Devils went on a 19-2 run over the first five minutes of the third quarter and never gave up the lead again.

“I was very pleased at halftime,” Escanaba coach Mike Beveridge said. “Usually you get off the bus after a long trip and you have a slow start. We didn’t get alot going in the first quarter but we had the lead, and then by the second quarter we were in full stride and playing really well. Nicole was really on her game in the first half and we were feeling pretty good to have the lead.

“We came out flat in the third quarter and the Sault got some layups and breakaway points,” Beveridge said. “That hurt us, and we never did really recover. We were chasing them the whole rest of the game. We did get some good shots but couldn’t knock them down to cut into their lead.”

Sault High improved to 7-0. Four senior Blue Devil starters scored in double figures, led by a career-high 18 points from Lilli Kelgar. Lilly Alaspa scored 13 points, while Jordyn Haller hit for 12 points and Haleigh Knowles had 10 points. Sophomore Claire Erickson scored only four points, but her 6-foot presence under the basket made a difference as she blocked four shots. The Blue Devils extended their overall winning streak to 24 games dating back to last season.

“It was a good team win for us,” Sault High coach Pat Bennin said. “We started to turn it around with our defense in the second half. At halftime we talked about trying to hold them to 20 points from here out, and we actually held them to 19.

After its third-quarter surge, Sault High took a 48-41 lead into the fourth quarter. The Eskymos got as close as five points, 54-49, after a jumper from Kamin with 3:10 remaining. But the Blue Devils protected their lead and ran time off the clock, forcing Esky to foul. Sault High connected on 6-of-10 free throws in the last 3:02 to seal the win. Alaspa made 5-of-7 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Carney Salo finished with nine points, while Mari Bink had six points and Maddy Monkevich and Maysie Lancour had two points each.

The Eskymos have already faced most of the U.P.’s best, and have upcoming games against some more formidable competition with Negaunee and St. Ignace looming next week.

Dating back to last season, the scores have been very similar whenever the Eskymos face the Blue Devils. Sault Ste. Marie defeated Escanaba 62-51 in last year’s regional semifinal, and also 63-56 in the regular season.

In the JV game Tuesday, Escanaba downed Sault Ste. Marie 38-30. Saylor Henderson scored 16 points for the Eskymos. Ella Marchand led the Sault with 10 points.

Escanaba visits Negaunee Tuesday. Sault Ste. Marie plays at St. Ignace Monday.

Escanaba 15 17 9 10 — 51

Sault 14 13 21 12 — 60

Escanaba — Barron 10, Kamin 22, Monkevich 2, Lancour 2, Salo 9, Bink 6. FT: 4-7; F: 18; 3-point field goals: (Barron 2, Kamin 1, Salo 1, Bink 1).

Sault — Knowles 11, Alaspa 13, Kelgar 18, Haller 12, Erickson 4, McLean 2. FT: 12-21; F: 12; 3-point field goals: (Knowles 2, Haller 2).

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