Prep boys basketball: Second-half surge powers Esko past Superior
Koi Perich finished with a game-high 25 points in a 59-48 win for the Eskomos.
SUPERIOR — An uncharacteristically slow shooting night forced Esko to dig deep in the final 18 minutes to upend a defensively-sound Superior squad 59-48 on Thursday, Feb. 2, at Superior High School.
Fatigue in the wake of a tightly-contested victory over Hermantown was a factor for the Eskomos early on in the spirited contest, according to head coach Derek Anderson.
“We came out really flat. You could kind of tell we had a high energy game and Superior came ready to play,” Anderson said. “We had a lot of slow moving (players) and I think we were a little bit tired because we were reacting to a bunch of calls.”
Attention to detail on the offensive end of the floor helped the Eskomos get back on track in the second half, Anderson said.
“We talked about ball movement and body movement and I think in the second half guys finally started attacking the seams a little bit (more) with the zone and they actually flashed to the soft spots, so that was the difference maker in turning it around,” he said.
Defense loomed large in the early going of the first half as the two teams struggled to find their rhythm offensively in a 2-2 score six minutes in. Superior’s Daynen Lull led the charge in slowing down the Eskomos with a tone-setting block in the paint.
“Defensively, that’s the best we’ve played in a while,” Deadrick said. “I think offensively we needed to be better because I knew eventually they were going to start making some shots and it wasn’t going to last forever.”
Pulling the Eskomos out of their shooting slump were scoring leaders Braedyn Male and Koi Perich, who collectively helped guide the visitors to their largest lead of the half at 19-10 before the Spartans responded with a run of their own.
Tre Sanigar was the catalyst for the Spartans' late first-half push as a flurry of three-point shots swiftly closed the gap and ultimately evened the score down the stretch at 23 apiece with under a minute left before halftime.
Sanigar went on to lead the Spartans with 16 points for the game.
“He's been playing better. It was a lot of fun to see him kind of lead us and carry us a little bit, so good for him to have a game like that and hopefully we can build on it as we head to playoffs,” Deadrick said.
The Spartans briefly pulled ahead after a technical foul call on Esko yielded a pair of made free throws by Sanigar to make it 25-23. A three-point play by Male with six seconds remaining put the Eskomos back in front at halftime in a 26-25 game.
Superior reclaimed the lead with the opening basket of the second half from Sanigar, and did not relinquish it until the final six minutes of play when Perich put the Eskomos up for good with a hard drive to the basket to make it 40-39.
The visitors outscored the Spartans 19-9 to the final buzzer to seal the victory.
“In the second half they kept chipping away and finally got some good possessions down the stretch and picked it up on defense,” Anderson said of the team’s late push.
The Eskomos (13-2) will be back on the road, Friday, Feb. 3 to take on South Ridge at 7:15 p.m. The Spartans (12-6) will host Grand Rapids, Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7:15 p.m.
Esko -- Carter Zezulka 5, Dalton Spindler 4, Koi Perich 25, Cuinn Berger 7, Sam Haugen 7, Braedyn Male 11. Totals 21 15-20 59.
3-point goals -- Haugen 1, Berger 1.
Superior -- Daynen Lull 11, Drew Eisel 2, Calvin Anderson 11, Carter Lambert 6, Devon Ford 2, Tresean Sanigar 16. Totals 17 4-6 48.
3-point goals -- Sanigar 4, Lull 3, Lambert 2, Anderson 1.