Maroons drop shorthanded Eskymos

KINGSFORD – Menominee, led by Travis Champeau’s 18 points and Bryan Hines’ 17, built a double-digit lead by halftime and never relinquished in a 61-46 Class B District 64 semifinal win over Escanaba Monday evening at Kingsford High School.

The Maroons (10-11) will travel to Gladstone for Wednesday’s district final. The Braves (9-11) knocked off Kingsford (14-6) 56-53 in Monday’s early game.

“I thought our guards played really well,” Maroons head coach Pete Pericolosi said. “We’re a guard oriented team, and I thought we showed our quickness against them.”

Champeau drained five triples for Menominee, all in the first half. He had three in the second quarter as the Maroons opened up what was a tight game through the first frame. Menominee outscored the Eskymos 35-16 in the middle quarters.

Jared Rivard added 11 points, and Devon Harris chipped in 10 more for the Maroons.

“Our guards were quicker than their guards, (Sam) Molnar went down that hurt them a lot too.”

Molnar, Escanaba’s second-leading scorer this season, suffered an injury in the first half and did not return.

“It was just kind of a train wreck for us when Sam went down,” Escanaba head coach Tracy Hudson said. “They got into their tempo early, and we didn’t execute early. It didn’t seem like we were down that much, but they bumped up 10 or 12 at the half and that hurt.”

Brandon Robinette’s double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds led the Eskymos, who finished their season 8-13.

“We just didn’t have one run in the whole game,” Hudson said. “It just felt like it was a struggle all night long. As coaches, we tried to push every button we could, played every kid we could, tried every defense we could. We didn’t shoot well and had opportunities around the basket we didn’t finish.”

After taking an 11-point halftime lead, Menominee held the Eskymos to a six-point third quarter to futher pad its lead.

“Defensively, I was very, very happy because they pounded us inside the last time we played, and we really collapsed on the inside and didn’t give up too much,” Pericolosi said. “Tonight, everything was from the perimeter, and they couldn’t hit. We had a lot of ball pressure.”

“You’ve got to give Menominee’s defense credit,” Hudson said. “They got up into us, took us out of our halfcourt offense.

“We’ve been playing so well of late. If you’re going to lose, you at least want to lose playing your best. We didn’t play our best game tonight. It’s a shame to end it like this, because we’re a better team.”

Pericolosi was impressed with Gladstone’s victory over the Flivvers.

“They way they played tonight, if they play like that Wednesday, we’re going to have our hands full,” he said. “They have a big guy inside (Jared Vuksan) who we don’t handle well. Again, it will come down to our guards. Our guards pressured Gladstone up there. If they can do that, we’ll be alright. Three times is tough to beat a team.”