Maroons surge over Eskymos

ESCANABA – Menominee didn’t show any hangover from a 66-38 loss to Marquette on Friday, as they bounced back to defeat Escanaba 61-51 in Saturday’s Greaty Northern Conference regular season finale.

“Our last two quarters against Marquette were not our best quarters; probably our worst quarters of the year,” said Maroons head coach Lucas Chouinard. “I told them it could of went one of two ways, we could have either responded like we did or it could have went south and we definitely picked up our game against Escanaba today and it was a good team win for us.”

The Maroons shook off their rust from Friday with a swarming trap that caused 16 first half turnovers and left them with a 31-22 half-time advantage.

“The biggest thing after a loss like that is we wanted to get our legs going and we wanted to get them flying around and trapping and they did a good job of doing that today and definitely putting pressure on Escanaba and we were able to get some key turnovers and easy baskets in transition,” Chouinard said.

While the Maroons were racking up steals, Escanaba’s defense struggled to create turnovers. The Eskymos, who hadn’t played in nine days prior to Saturday’s game, were unable to recreate the havoc that helped pace them in their last win against Ishpeming.

“Our biggest thing is we feed off our steals and in the first half when we went into the locker room we only had one steal,” said Esky head coach Dena Fedell. “We usually can score 12 points off our steals on a good night, so going in with only one steal hurt us.”

Menominee continued to build their lead in the third quarter as Amanda Pedersen scored to give the Maroons a 16 points lead with 5:03 remaining.

The Eskymos fought back and eventually cut the deficit to eight points after a pair of free throws from senior guard Lynsey Collins with just under three minutes to play in the third.

Menominee’s Amanda Simmons responded with a 3-pointer from the top of the key which sparked a 13-2 Maroon run to close out the quarter as they led 55-36 heading into the final eight minutes.

Escanaba’s leading scorer Michelle LaFave picked up her fourth foul less than a minute into the fourth quarter. The junior forward, who had scored 30 points in back-to-back games was held to 17 points as the Maroons threw double teams at her for most of the game.

“She is a key, we know she is their best player,” Chouinard said. “We always made sure we weren’t helping as much on that weak side, we always wanted to know where she was. If she did get the ball we wanted to quickly get it our of her hands and trap her if possible.”

Pedersen, got the task of guarding LaFave for most of the game. The senior forward finished with 13 points and six boards. Paige Owens also added 10 points and seven rebounds to help pace the Maroons up front.

“A big focus these last couple of games was to get the ball to our post players; to get it to Amanda and Paige and we definitely did that a good job of that,” Chouinard said. “We had 21 post touches, which is huge for us. The more times we can get it down to our post players the better.”

It was the final home game for Escanaba seniors Lynsey Collins, Ashley Cook and Sydney Gafner who were all honored before the game. Collins finished with 14 points, Gafner chipped in eight and Cook added five. Fedell said the trio was an honor to coach and their speed and leadership will be missed next season.

“We wanted to play as hard as we could with those three seniors leaving us,” Fedell said. “They’re a great group of girls. There is a lot to be said about their speed. “It was a privilege coaching those three girls and I hope that we have some more games ahead of us.”

Escanaba wraps up their regular season with at 8-12 overall and 1-7 in the GNC. They are back in action for their district opener at Houghton, Wednesday. The Maroons finish their regular season at 12-7 overall and 5-3 in the GNC. They will host Gladstone or Kingsford in district play, Wednesday.