Maroons avenge earlier loss to Esky girls

MENOMINEE – The Menominee girls will head into the postseason with some tournament traction while Escanaba hopes to get off the black ice.

The Maroons earned back-to-back victories for the first time since December with a 53-32 romp in their regular season finale Thursday night.

“It was a very good team win tonight,” coach Lucas Chouinard said. “This is just what we needed. We focused on three things tonight – taking care of the basketball, setting the tempo and making stops.”

The Maroons started slow but staged a 15-point run to claim a 16-2 lead early in the second quarter.

“We’re an inexperienced team that needs to get out to a good start,” Escanaba coach Kelly O’ Connell stated. “We have a tendancy to struggle if we don’t. Menominee came out and played with a lot of energy. They took it to us in the first half.”

The Eskymos went seven minutes without scoring before a flurry from the free-throw line cut the lead to 16-8 with 4:16 left in the first half.

Lexi Christian recharged the Menominee attack with a shot from the wing and Amanda Pedersen sank two FTs and turned a steal into a coast-to-coast layup to stretch the margin to 23-10 at halftime.

The Maroon press and half-court defense flustered the Eskymos into 21 turnovers in the game and allowed just two field goals in the first half.

Pedersen made a perfect bounce pass to Karli Barley for a layup and Allia Stewart swiped the ball and sank two free throws to pad the lead to 32-18.

With the clock running out at the end of the third quarter, Allison Barley fired in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to open up a 41-20 margin.

“We were able to get some steals and get baskets off them,” said Chouinard. “The girls made stops on defense and made the right decisions on offense.”

The Maroons turned the ball over just 11 times while hitting on 19 of 42 shots.

The win avenged a 40-28 loss at Escanaba.

“We shot the ball much better (in Escanaba) and took care of the ball much better,” said O’ Connell. “We’ve only been turning the ball over 12 or 13 times. We just didn’t answer the bell tonight.”

The Eskymos (4-16 overall, 2-6 GNC) struggled to a 12-of-40 night from the floor.

Ten players contributed points for the Maroons. Pedersen led the way with nine points, six rebounds, five steals, four assists and a fourth-quarter mid-air block that brought roars from the crowd.

Stewart had eight points and she used her quickness to track down four rebounds and added three steals. Karli Barley had seven points.

“Amanda, Karli, Paige (Owens) and Hannah (Christensen) did a real good job inside tonight,” said Chouinard. “When (Escanaba) collapsed on us, that opened up the perimeter for us.

Sophomore Michelle LaFave turned in a double-double for Esky with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Menominee won the jayvee game 46-29 while Escanaba took the freshmen game 50-20.

Escanaba will face Kingsford in the Class B district tournament at Kingsford Monday night. In the other half of the bracket, Menominee (9-10 overall, 1-7 GNC) plays Gladstone at 7 p.m. Monday.