Esky ramps up the pressure, routs Iron Mountain

IRON MOUNTAIN – Escanaba’s full-court pressure and a double-double from Michelle LaFave sent the Eskymos past Iron Mountain 64-41 in non-conference girls basketball Friday.

LaFave’s 26 points and 13 rebounds along with Lynsey Collins’ 16 points keyed the offensive side.

Defensively, Escanaba’s pressure forced 28 turnovers and created

20 steals.

“A couple of our presses hurt them a little bit,” Escanaba Coach Dena Fedell said. “The big thing was our three-quarter and full-court trap.

“We normally don’t do the full court press because the three-quarter usually works for us more because of the quickness.”

Sydney Gafner collected seven steals while Brittany Levesque came off the bench with four.

Escanaba’s pressure frustrated Iron Mountain, triggering a 12-0 start to the game. The Mountaineers didn’t hit their first field goal until Alyssa Khor hit the first of five triples with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

“We just can not handle any pressure,” said Iron Mountain Coach Ginger (Weber) Moore, who didn’t recall many losses to the Eskymos while playing high school basketball for Gladstone. “We freeze instead of looking where the defense is coming from. They didn’t have to work very hard for their points.”

The Eskymos built an 18-5 lead after the first quarter but the Mountaineers rallied to within 20-14 midway through the second after Cassie Feira provided a spark with a triple and solid defense.

Escanaba resumed control again and owned a 32-22 halftime advantage. The difference climbed from there.

LaFave, a 5-foot-11 junior with good moves, netted 13 points in each half.

“She’s definitely a power player and their offensive threat,” Moore said. “You have someone that versatile she opens things up for other players. She’s a huge asset to that team.”

Fedell also cited Collins, Gafner for a “good all around defensive game” and Levesque for her play in a reserve role.

“Ashley Cook had a very good game,” Fedell noted. “She’s just very quick on her feet and creates a lot.”

Khor, who drew box-and-one defensive attention, topped the Mountaineers with 15 points. Marti Pirkola tallied nine points and nine rebounds and Feira chipped in eight points.

“Again, I’m very happy with our effort,” Moore said. “We did a lot of good things. I’m happy with our progress.”

On Monday, Escanaba (7-6) visits Marquette and Iron Mountain (1-11) hosts Ishpeming.

Iron Mountain defeated Escanaba 57-30 in the junior varsity game while the Eskymos prevailed in the freshmen.