KINGSFORD – Carlee Benzie posted game highs of 12 points and nine rebounds, hitting three of Kingsford’s eight triples, but it was her defensive pressure that proved most frustrating for Escanaba in the Flivvers 46-34 Class B district 64 semifinal victory here Monday evening.
“I kind of thought we broke the press pretty well,” Escanaba coach Kelly O’Connell said. “But there were times, because Carlee is so quick, she comes up from behind and swipes it. I think if we would have recognized that, our turnovers would have been cut in half.”
The Flivvers (17-4), who will host Menominee in Wednesday’s district final at 6 p.m., forced Escanaba into 20 turnovers with their press.
“We hit the middle, we broke it, but Carlee is all over the floor,” O’Connell said. “She is a tremendous athlete, quick, and Kingsford is a very quick team overall.”
Kingsford limited the Eskymos to 14 points in the first half. Benzie sunk two of her threes in the third quarter to help the Flivvers expand their lead. Annika Erickson added eight points, hitting twice from deep. Maria Wiltzius and Amber Larson both pumped in six points, Wiltzius draining another Flivver trey.
“With the zone they were in, we passed really well,” Flivvers coach Mike Cross said. “That was a big key to it. We had some kids step and make some big shots. Our two sophomores hit some shots. That helped us out quite a bit.”
The Flivver lead was safely in double digits until very late when an Esky burst briefly threatened to cut it under 10.
“We missed a lot of easy shots in the first half,” O’Connell said. “We could have come in tighter. But it was a great effort. The girls were right there. If we could have made some of those easy shots early on, we could have kept that gap closer.”
Codi Jenshak scoffed 11 points in the final game of her high school career, and was the only Eskymo in double figures.
“Defensively, our goal in pressuring them, if we’re not getting steals, is to make them work for everything and hopefully tire them out,” Cross said. “It just forces them to be in that hurry mode.
“I thought we were tough. I can’t say enough about Andrea Roell, held (Michelle) LaFave to seven points. That girl just works so hard. She’s a pit bull out there.”
Kingsford faces a Menominee team that outlasted Gladstone 47-46 in the other semifinal Monday. The Flivvers won both meetings against the Maroons in the regular season, taking a 39-37 decision on Jan. 17, and a 56-45 victory on Feb. 11.