Eskymos knock out Braves

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press The Escanaba girls basketball team bench celebrates after winning against Gladstone in a Division 2 District semifinal Monday at Gladstone.

GLADSTONE — Grand Valley State recruits Nicole Kamin and Megan Crow put on quite a show in a Division 2 girls’ district basketball opener here Monday night.

Kamin scored a career-high 45 points and ran her career total to a school-record 1,283, leading the Escanaba Eskymos past the Gladstone Braves 65-48.

“This feels amazing,” said Kamin. “Credit goes to our coaches. It’s always a big game when Esky plays Gladstone. Forty-five points, that’s not all me. Credit also goes to my teammates. I think our adrenalin was way up there. We were so excited to play this game.

“Megan is a great player. Once she gets the ball inside, there’s no stopping her. We had to focus on other players. She was thinking the same thing as us. She’s a great leader and going to be a great teammate at Grand Valley.”

The Eskymos (11-4) will try to become repeat district champions for the first time since 1959 when they visit Houghton (12-5) for the title contest Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Crow hit a career-best 36 points for the Braves, who finished 8-6.

Kamin, who scored 28 in the first half, opened the scoring on a 20-foot jump shot just 15 seconds into the contest.

“That was special,” said Esky coach Mike Beveridge. “You don’t get to see that too many times in high school girls’ basketball. Nicole hitting the first three was good for us, and it gave her confidence. I didn’t know she could hit that many points in a game. She had 35 at St. Ignace (in a 68-64 loss March 5), and that was impressive. She took control of the game, and I’m very proud of her. Our 3-point shooting early was huge. They came out in a zone, and our 3s took them out of it.”

Esky sank three of its four shots from behind the arc, gaining an 11-6 with five minutes, 17 seconds left in the opening frame and forcing Gladstone to use a time-out.

The Braves were within 16-11 following a 22-foot jumper by junior Claire van Ginhoven with 1:42 left in the first.

Kamin then converted a fast break layup and a pair of free throws, giving the Eskymos a 20-11 cushion after the first quarter.

Gladstone was still within 24-17 after a layup by Crow at 5:08.

Esky finished the second stanza with a 16-3 run, gaining a 40-20 advantage on sophomore Carney Salo’s running jump shot from the lane three seconds before halftime.

The Eskymos led by as much as 46-24 following two free throws by junior Bailey Barron at 5:12.

Crow then went to work underneath, scoring the next five points to trim Gladstone’s deficit to 46-29 with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter.

“We had a hard time getting the ball in to Megan,” said Braves coach Andy Cretens. “We relied on her too much. We needed to be more patient with the ball and let the game come to us. Turnovers and layups on the other end are what really hurt us. Nicole is a unique and amazing player, but we made the game too easy for her with our turnovers. A few of our girls were under quarantine for about 10 days and had just two practices with everybody and that hurt us. Although, that’s not to take anything away from their team. That’s the hand we were dealt.”

A 3-point play by Kamin bumped Esky’s advantage to 49-29.

Sophomore Aliana Martinez then split a pair of free throws and scored on a lay-in, and Crow followed with a lay-in and free throw to bring the Braves within 49-36 with 2:24 left in the third.

Esky extended its cushion to 55-38 on a pair of gifters by Kamin with 18 seconds remaining in the third and led by 15 points or more through the remainder of the contest.

The Eskymos hit all 14 of their free throws and committed 12 turnovers. The Braves were 11-of-15 from the line and had 21 miscues.

“It feels good to get a career-high, only I wish we could have come out of here with a win,” said Crow. “We played hard but couldn’t get it going. Nicole had a great game. She played hard and passed the ball well. Hopefully, we’ll be moving down to Grand Valley in June. Once we got the ball inside, we were able to do some damage. Other girls were scoring, but we didn’t take care of the ball. Although, this was a good experience for our juniors

“I’m happy with the season overall. We weren’t sure we’d have a season (due to Covid-19). This was definitely one of my favorite years in high school. You have to take advantage of every opportunity. You can’t take anything for granted.”

Beveridge was pleased with the team’s man-to-man defense.

“They had all their girls tonight, but it was our defense that made the difference in the game,” he said. “Megan is tough to defend. We knew she was going to get her points and focused on (Alaina) Trudeau and (Claire) van Ginhoven. Maddy Monkevich and Carney Salo did an excellent job defending them. We made a lot of opportunities to get fast breaks because of our defense.”

“Houghton will be another tough match-up. From what I’ve heard, they’re a good team. Julie Filpus is one coach I have a lot of respect for.”

Escanaba 20 20 15 10 — 65

Gladstone 11 9 18 10 — 48

Escanaba — Barron 6, Kamin 45, Monkevich 5, Lancour 2, Salo 2, Bink 5. FT: 14-14; F: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Kamin 3, Monkevich, Bink.

Gladstone — Van Ginhoven 4, Martinez 6, Trudeau 2, Crow 36. FT: 11-15; F: 14; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goal: Van Ginhoven.


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