Flivvers surprise Esky girls at Kingsford

KINGSFORD – The Kingsford Flivvers, turning back the clock in a couple key aspects, spilled Escanaba 77-62 in Great Northern Conference girls basketball Tuesday.

The Flivvers demonstrated a tenacious defense and balanced scoring in their first league win of the season. Both of those traits stood out in past Kingsford teams that crossed the “bridge” at tournament time.

“The pressure that we put on reminded me of teams we’ve had in the past,” Kingsford Coach Mike Cross said. “We have to be able to do that more.

“It felt like the intensity level that we were able to maintain was key to winning it.”

Kingsford also clicked offensively, with four girls scoring in double figures and hitting eight three-pointers.

“This is really the first game where we’ve had a lot of girls step up offensively and knock down shots,” Cross said. “We had eight threes and I can’t say enough about that.”

Amber Larson, who converted 7 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter, led the the Flivvers with 20 points. Courtney Qualley chipped in 18; Maria Wiltzius, 14, and Hannah Tresedder, 11.

“Amber Larson was a beast,” Cross said of the junior’s stellar inside play. “Maria Wiltzius did a good job all over the place.

“We shot the ball well and moved the ball much better.”

Wiltzius had the niftiest play of the night, dribbling the length of the court and beating the third-quarter buzzer with a lay-up.

While Kingsford offered a balanced attack, Escanaba countered with two scoring threats – Michelle LaFave, 26 points and 16 rebounds, and Lynsey Collins, 22 points.

“You have to account for LaFave,” Cross said. “She had some moves that were phenomenal.”

Escanaba trailed 40-36 in the first minute of the second half but Kingsford answered with an 11-2 run. The Eskymos battled back with eight straight points to narrow the gap to 51-46 with 36 seconds left.

Wiltzius fired back with a traditional three-point play and her coast-to-coast lay-up for a 56-46 difference heading into the fourth.

The Eskymos got as close as seven twice in the fourth quarter. The Flivvers held them off by converting 13 of 17 free throws.

“We knew they were going to play us tough,” Escanaba Coach Dena Fedell said. “Everybody is hard at this time of the year.

“When we get in sync of things we play well togther. Tonight we couldn’t get the offense to run at all.”

The teams combined for 43 turnovers and 46 fouls in the fast-paced game.

“We wanted an up tempo game,” Cross said. “That’s what we were looking for.”

Escanaba (7-9, 1-5) takes on Calumet Thursday and Kingsford (6-8, 1-4) hosts unbeaten Marquette Friday.

The Eskymos captured the junior varsity game, 53-40, and the Flivvers claimed the freshman contest, 58-45.