Esky hangs on, tops Maroons
ESCANABA — The Escanaba boys kept their composure when they really needed to here Thursday night in an 87-79 basketball triumph over the Menominee Maroons.
Esky hit all eight of their free throws in the fourth quarter, including a pair of gifters by junior forward Colin Hudson in the closing moments of this Great Northern Conference match-up.
Junior forward Jared Hanson gave the Eskymos a 71-52 advantage on a jump shot from the right corner with one minute, 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Following a time-out, the Maroons (3-3 overall, 1-3 league) went to a half-court trapping defense, forced a few turnovers and quickly cut their deficit to 71-60 on a jumper from top of the key by junior Cooper Conway.
Esky went back up by 13 points with 10 seconds left in the third on a layup by Hanson.
“They did a jump and run, and we didn’t handle it very well,” said Esky coach Tracy Hudson. “We had nice offensive balance, but we need to shore up our decision making against the press.”
Menominee carried its momentum into the fourth, climbing within 73-66 on a layup by junior Aiden Bellisle with 6:41 left to play.
A layup by Hanson put Esky up 75-66, but Bellisle sank a 17-foot jumper, and junior Brady Schultz drained a jumper from the left quarter to pull the Maroons within 75-71 at 4:29.
Menominee was still within 83-79 with 64 seconds remaining following a pair of gifters by Bellisle.
Senior forward Carter Hudson, who drew his fourth foul early in the third frame, gave the Eskymos an 85-79 cushion with a layup, setting the stage for Colin Hudson’s game-clinching free throws.
“Escanaba shot the ball real well, especially in the first half,” said Menominee coach Sam Larson. “They moved the ball well. I think we rattled them for a little while, then they hit some shots, which slowed our comeback a little. We got Aiden going in the second half. He’s a pretty gifted shooter, but we couldn’t sustain our scoring pace. We dug ourselves in little too deep a hole.”
Esky led 49-36 at halftime and extended their lead to 56-39 on a lay-in by senior guard Brandon Frazer slightly more than two minutes into the third stanza.
Menominee trimmed its deficit to 58-46 on a lay-in by Schultz midway through the third prior to Esky responding with a 13-6 run to gain its largest advantage (71-52).
The Eskymos lost senior guard Erik Victorson to an ankle injury less than three minutes into the contest. He will not be playing in tonight’s home game against Gladstone.
“We had to overcome some adversity,” said coach Hudson. “Carter being in foul trouble and Erik getting hurt kind of leveled the playing field. I thought Colin stepped up when they went out, and Brandon and Connor (Smale) did a pretty good job.”
Colin Hudson led Esky with 24 points, including 18 in the first half. Frazer finished with 16 points and seven assists. Smale and Hanson added 13 points each.
The Eskymos hit 43-of-77 field goals and committed 16 turnovers.
Bellisle hit 25 points. Schultz added 23, and Conway collected 19 for the Maroons, who sank 33-of-72 shots and had 11 miscues. They hit 14-of-20 free throws, and the Eskymos were 14-of-17 from the line.
Esky also won the jayvee contest (77-68) and freshman game (52-34). The Eskymos host Gladstone tonight at 7:30. The Maroons visit Carney-Nadeau March 4.
Menominee 19 17 24 19 — 79
Escanaba 30 19 24 14 — 87
Menominee — Starzynski 6, Badker 3, Waara 3, Bellisle 25, Schultz 23, Conway 19. FT: 14-20; F: 17; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Schultz 3, Conway 2, Starzynski, Waara.
Escanaba — Frazer 16, Smale 13, Colin Hudson 24, Carter Hudson 8, Hanson 13, Victorson 5, Brown 8. FT: 14-17; F: 14; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Smale 3, Hanson 3, Frazer 2, Colin Hudson 2, Victorson.