Esky, Flivvers play it close once again
KINGSFORD – Kingsford and Escanaba will clash in a Class B district opener next month.
Judging from the first two meetings, the third should be a dandy.
The Flivvers, with four players scoring in double digits, topped the Eskymos 72-69 in Great Northern Conference boys basketball Friday.
Escanaba captured a December test, 53-51.
“We play these guys again in five weeks,” said Kingsford Coach Dan Olkkonen, noting a March 4 home tourney date. “It was good to get back playing (after being off a week) and getting back on track.”
Aidan Wienke paced the Flivvers with 21 points, followed by Caleb Harrington, 19; Dalton Allen, 11, and Cole Michaud, 10.
“We wanted to hold down Wienke and Harrington,” said Escanaba Coach Tracy Hudson. “That was one of the keys and we weren’t able to do that.
“Harrington took over the game at the end when he had to and Wienke quietly got his 21. Their two big guns got the games Kingsford wanted them to.”
Eskymos’ Sam Molnar, playing a “great game for a sophomore” according to Hudson, tallied a team-high 15 points and three assists. Ben Kleiman tacked on 10 points and four assists.
Brandon Robinette, who netted 14 points in the first game with Kingsford, was checked to six Friday.
“Our defense did a good job on their main guy Robinette,” said Olkkonen, crediting Wienke and others. “We were a little upset with our defense in the first quarter. We usually don’t give up 20 points to anybody in a quarter. We refocused a little bit.”
Escanaba, ahead 20-16 after the first quarter, trailed 39-33 at halftime.
“We got off to a great start,” Hudson said. “We wanted to keep it a little more up tempo and we felt Kingsford wanted to make it a medium tempo game, pound it inside-out.
“When they were able to get in their half court, that’s when we started losing ground. When we extended the press, we seemed to have the advantage.”
The Flivvers built an 11-point lead in the third quarter but triples from Storm Fournier, Molnar and Jordan Ogren sparked the Eskymos. The margin was just five starting the fourth period.
“All those guys that shot for them were comfortable and confident,” Olkkonen said. “They fought right to the end.”
Escanaba closed to three, 55-52, early in the fourth period. Kingsford moved ahead by nine but Escanaba shaved the difference to three with 1:17 showing after six straight points from Jamie Hiltunen, Kleiman and David Falish.
In the final minute, Harrington fed Michaud for a key bucket.
Nick Baldwin, a 5-foot-11 guard, came through with two key fourth-quarter baskets, one on a tip-in. Hudson also highlighted Dalton Allen for a big fourth-period triple and Michaud for a putback.
“We made some good decisions at the end,” said Olkkonen, who wasn’t happy with a 13-for-23 free throw effort. “Caleb had a quiet 19 and handled the floor real well.
“We’re very happy with the win.”
Escanaba shot 24 of 52 from the floor, with an 8-of-24 three-point mark.
On Tuesday, Kingsford (8-3 overall, 3-2 GNC) hosts West Iron County and Escanaba (4-8, 1-4) takes on Iron Mountain.
Kingsford also captured the junior varsity, 75-53, and freshmen, 54-45, games.