Class AA state tournament capsule: Esko vs. St. Croix Lutheran
ESKO (23-7) VS. ST. CROIX LUTHERAN (28-2) What: Class AA state tournament quarterfinal When: Approximately 6 p.m. Where: Target Center, Minneapolis Outlook: Defending champion Esko reloaded after graduating 1,000-point scorers Kory Deadrick, Marc...
ESKO (23-7) VS. ST. CROIX LUTHERAN (28-2)
What: Class AA state tournament quarterfinal
When: Approximately 6 p.m.
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
Outlook: Defending champion Esko reloaded after graduating 1,000-point scorers Kory Deadrick, Marc Peterson and Casey Staniger. The unseeded Eskomos didn’t get any favors when the bracket was unveiled, drawing the top-seeded Crusaders from West St. Paul. After watching film of today’s opponent, Esko coach Mike Devney said: “Their team is very similar to us” in terms of size and style. Devney is coaching in his sixth state tournament - the first two came with Carlton. Defense is a big reason why as the Eskomos allow just 46.7 points per game. That number was 28 in a Section 7AA title-game victory over Barnum. On the other end, Esko fires away from the 3-point line, with 207 makes from beyond the arc. Aaron Olson (15 points per game) and Jaxson Turner (13.2) lead the way, though contributors are many, including Nate Johnson (9.5) and Adam Trapp (8.9). Trapp, the first freshman ever to start for Devney, is a 7-foot handful inside. Derek Pantsar (38 for 87), Olson (59-145) and Elijah Mattinen (41-102) all connect at better than a 40-percent clip from the 3-point line. Turner (5.4 assists per game) is a lightning-quick point guard and a ball-hounding defender. This is Esko’s fifth tournament appearance. … St. Croix Lutheran is in its second tournament. The Crusaders, out of Section 4AA, set a program record with 24 regular-season victories. They have won 10 in a row. Trenton Krueger, the team’s tallest player at 6-6, averages 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per night. The numbers are almost identical for Ade Lamu (16.3, 8.3). Despite a roster that isn’t overwhelmingly big, St. Croix Lutheran is an excellent rebounding team. According to the Minnesota State High School League media guide, the school attracts students from around the globe, averaging more than 100 international students from 17 countries each year.
Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5
Tickets: Adults, $14; students, $9
Quotable: “They don’t have any experience at Target Center and we have three players that have played on that floor and know the feeling of it, so I think that is a big help.” - Esko’s Olson