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Esko power boost bests Cloquet in second half


January 31, 2020

Dan Saletel

Cloquet's Adam Schneider cuts through Esko traffic as he finds the basket for two points Monday in Esko.

It was a tale of two halves on Monday night when the Eskomos and Lumberjacks met up in high school boys basketball. Cloquet zipped out to a nine-point halftime lead, but Esko stormed back to win 63-59 by outscoring their neighbor by 13 points in the second half.

"We came out sluggish in the first half and we were giving up layups and uncontested shots," said Esko coach Derek Anderson. "We also weren't attacking at all on offense. We cleaned some things up at halftime and the players responded well to that and the fact that we actually started playing defense and picked them up full court to change the pace of the game."

While Anderson was ecstatic about his team's second half run, the complete opposite was true for Cloquet coach Steve Battaglia.

"We turned the ball over 14 times in the second half and our shot selection and overall decision making in the second half was suspect as well," Battaglia said. "They showed us some full court pressure that rattled us a bit as well."

The change of pace was also prompted by the scoring of Payton Wefel and Eli Blue, who scored 23 and 19 points respectively for the Eskomos.

"Eli started to attack the basket and was more aggressive in the second half," Anderson said. "Payton did a better job of not forcing his shot in the second half and put it on the floor more."

Battaglia agreed with Anderson's assessment.

"Those are two good shooters," said Battaglia. "You have to keep track of them at all times. Overall I was happy with our defensive effort."

Cloquet was led in scoring by Adam Schneider, who poured in 20 points, and Alec Turnbull, who finished with 12 points.

Dan Saletel

Esko's Eli Blue goes up for a shot against Markus Pokornowski.

"Schneider is a very solid player," Anderson said. "He has a quick first step and can also elevate on his shot, which makes him a tough matchup."

A key to the Esko win was the team's ability to hit the 3-pointer when needed. Esko hit five 3-pointers versus only two for Cloquet. Esko also got to the foul line, which turned into magic for them as they hit 16 of 26 from the line. Cloquet was 7 for 7, but that was not enough to overcome the aggressive Esko offense.

James LeGarde also had a solid game for the Eskomos with 12 points, Riley Fischer added six and Preston Lowe scored three.

Dylan Heehn finished with 10 points for Cloquet, Caleb Hanson scored eight, Markus Pokornowski had three, and Tyler Issendorf, Kade Clemens and Nate Blatchford all finished with two points each.

The loss dropped Cloquet to 4-13 and Esko improved to 11-4 on the season.


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