Saving the best for last

ESCANABA – The Escanaba girls found little bit of offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter Friday night as they surged to a 59-40 basketball triumph over the Marinette Marines.

Esky trailed 31-29 early in the third stanza of this non-conference match-up.

The Eskymos (3-3), despite going more than 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal in the third, eventually seized control with a 29-2 run which extended well into the fourth.

Esky still trailed 31-30 with two minutes, 17 seconds left in the third frame.

Senior guard Lynsey Collins then sank a pair of free throws to put the Eskymos ahead to stay 32-31.

Esky added six more points in the third, taking a 38-31 advantage on a fast break layup by senior guard Sydney Gafner with 19 seconds remaining.

The Eskymos led 16-7 after the first quarter, but substituted freely in the second and trailed 29-26 at halftime.

“We like to see where the depth is,” said Esky coach Dena Fedell. “We try to mix and match and see who has the hot hand that night. We knew we had the momentum back after the third quarter. At halftime, we told the girls they had to play with fire under their feet and cover each other. We always tell them to never give up. We just try to give them encouragement to get them back on the right track.”

Marinette (0-7), which gained its 31-29 lead just 59 seconds into the third stanza, didn’t score again until midway through the fourth on a backdoor layup by sophomore guard Teya Lambie.

By then, however, Esky had built a 43-33 cushion.

“I thought we did a real good job scoring in the second quarter,” said Marinette coach Luke Maulding, a Mid Peninsula graduate. “This is one of those nights I wish we wouldn’t have had a halftime. The girls worked real hard, especially in the second quarter. We had the momentum. Then in the second half, we couldn’t score.”

Collins led the Eskymos with 17 points and five assists. Junior center Michelle LaFave, receiving plenty of defensive attention, added 14 points and 18 rebounds. Gafner finished with 10 points and senior guard Ashley Cook had nine points, four assists and four steals.

“They doubled Michelle,” said Fedell. “But she came through when we needed her to, and I didn’t realize Lynsey had 17. I went into this game blind. We didn’t get a chance to scout them. Every time they had a game, we had a game. The only thing I could go by is what Luke did when he was here (as jayvee coach). I knew he liked to play a straight man-to-man and you can create a lot of turnovers when you do that.”

Junior guard Alexandria Cording paced the Marines with 14 points and classmate Cassandra Hilbert, who missed the past three games due to a concussion, had 10.

“We’re glad to get Cassandra back,” said Maulding. “Having her back takes a lot of pressure off our guards. I thought we played good defense, especially in the second quarter. Only, we need to get more comfortable and become more aggressive on the offensive side.”

Esky hit 19-of-61 field goals. Both teams committed 29 turnovers.

“I would like to see that go under 15,” said Fedell. “The girls were flat tonight. They always show up for four quarters, but it’s sometimes hard to get them to play four quarters.”

The Eskymos resume Friday at 7:15 p.m. when they visit Gladstone. Marinette resumes Jan. 7 when it hosts Luxemburg-Casco.