Defense powers Esky past Gremlins

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Eskymos avenged a 64-44 loss suffered earlier this season when they beat the Houghton Gremlins 60-46 Friday.

Both teams played stiff defense throughout the contest, and turnovers were the story in the first matchup between these two. Friday night, the Eskymos were able to rise above the Gremlins’ pressure and come out with a win.

“When we played them the first time, we felt like we didn’t have the energy needed,” said Escanaba coach Tracy Hudson. “It was a battle early, and when we came out at the half, we just took control.”

The Eskymos held a 26-24 halftime lead, but Sam Molnar and Brandon Robinette helped to ignite the offense in the third quarter. Molnar was able to get into the lane which allowed the offense to spread, and Robinette hit a couple of triples to boost the lead to 42-34 heading into the final quarter.

The game was never really out of reach for the Gremlins, but the Eskymos went 12 for 16 from the free throw line in the fourth to make sure it never got too close.

Escanaba turned the tables on Houghton this time around, as their defense left the Gremlins frustrated.

“I thought our 1-3-1 defense gave them problems and they were very hesitant against it,” Hudson said. “They got some points late, but we handled their defensive pressure a lot better and we did a good job in transition.”

Trent Keteri was shooting the lights out from three, connecting on five triples. He led the Gremlins with 15 points, followed by Cody Goodreau with 14. However, both of them ended up in foul trouble, and they fouled out before the game drew to a close.

Bench play was a key factor as well, as Escanaba leaned on their backups a lot in the first half and they did their part. Storm Fournier, Ben Kleiman, Jordan Olgren, and others contributed 16 points off the bench.

“We went deeper into our bench in the first half, and I thought they came through for us,” Hudson added.

Molnar led the Eskymos with 16 points, and Robinette had 13. Dan LaPalm led the team in rebounding with seven boards.

Houghton (10-5), which lost its starting point guard a few weeks ago, has been struggling in his absence as of late.

“We definitely didn’t play our best basketball tonight,” said Gremlins coach Jared Lawson. “We’ve really struggled taking care of the ball, and as a result, we’ve had trouble getting into our offense. It makes for a struggle of a game.”

He added that their offensive struggles were a result of Escanaba’s defense, as well as Houghton’s inability to really take care of the ball.

The Eskymos (5-11), who also took the jayvee game 47-35, host Gwinn Tuesday.