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Esko's Trapp is a big deal

By any measurement, he’s a game-changer.

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Esko’s Adam Trapp takes a shot during Monday’s practice. The 6-foot-11 Trapp will help the Eskomos defend their title at the state tournament. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
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The irony appeared lost on Adam Trapp, but when the Esko freshman said before practice Monday, “We don’t have very much height on our team,” one had to refrain from responding, “Wait, what?”

Trapp technically is listed at 6-foot-11, but he fancies himself a 7-footer. And who’s to argue?

By any measurement, he’s a game-changer. And he’s a luxury for coach Mike Devney and the Eskomos heading into the Class AA quarterfinals of the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament. Seven-footers are rare even in the NBA and college, but for a high school team it’s almost unheard of.

Preparing for a player of Trapp’s size and, increasingly, his skill level, is no small task either. That reality was on display last week as Esko claimed its third consecutive Section 7AA crown by beating Barnum, a team that overpowered the Eskomos by 14 points in mid-December. Trapp didn’t play in that game because of two broken fingers. His presence in the rematch flummoxed the higher-seeded Bombers.

The first freshman starter for a Devney-coached team alters game plans on both ends of the floor.

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Defensively, opponents “can drive around one of our guys, but they have a 7-footer to deal with,” Devney says, while noting that his players can be more aggressive because of the shot-blocking security blanket behind them.

Offensively, if an Eskomo is in trouble, they can “just throw it at the rim and he’ll be there to lay it in,” senior guard Aaron Olson said. “And when you drop it down to the post and they double-team him, he’ll kick it right back out and you’ll get a wide-open shot for a 3.”

It’s a dynamic Esko (23-7) didn’t have last year. Then again, things worked out OK in 2014 when the Eskomos streaked to the first state championship in program history. They begin defense of that title vs. St. Croix Lutheran at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

The Crusaders enter the tournament with the No. 1 seed and a 28-2 record. What they don’t have, though, is an abundance of size. St. Croix Lutheran’s tallest player, junior Trenton Krueger, is 6-6. There are others over 6 feet, but no Crusader will be breathing the same air as Trapp.
The freshman, who comes from a supersized family - including sisters Savanna (6-9) and Molly (6-5) - hopes to use that to his benefit.

“I look at games like that, where I’m four or five inches taller than their biggest player, as opportunities to have a bit of an advantage on the offensive end,” said Trapp, who is shooting above 60 percent from the floor while averaging 8.9 points per game.

The wiry left-hander’s game is advanced for a youngster. Trapp isn’t anywhere close to the player he will be in, say, two or three years, but he’s polished for a kid who didn’t even dress for the varsity a year ago. As his role with the Eskomos has increased, so, too, has his confidence.
“He’s definitely grown a lot,” Olson said. “He’s understanding the game and what he can do. And he still has three more years. He will be a great player.”

Trapp played about 28 minutes against Barnum last week, proof that he has regained his conditioning after the early injury setback. Esko will need similar minutes against St. Croix Lutheran, which Devney says is an excellent offensive rebounding team. The Crusaders haven’t lost since a 61-47 defeat to DeLaSalle - the No. 1 seed in the Class AAA field - on Jan. 30.

“They hit the offensive boards very, very well,” Devney said. “If we don’t box out, it’s going to be a long night for us. If we box out and rebound, we have a chance. But if they come down every time and get two or three (shots), it’s probably not going to be a pleasant ending for us.”

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Devney will be coaching at his sixth state tournament, and while everybody expected last year’s team to reach Minneapolis, this year was a bit of a surprise after the Eskomos graduated a trio of 1,000-point scorers in Casey Staniger, Marc Peterson and Kory Deadrick, the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. But players like Olson, Jaxson Turner and Nate Johnson have stepped up to replenish some of that scoring, leading Esko to its third consecutive state tournament.

In the state tournament media guide, under team highlights, is this: “We are the Esko Eskomos from Esko and not the Eskimos from Alaska.”

Related Topics: BASKETBALLESKOESKO ESKOMOS
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