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Cold start ends Esko run

 

March 18, 2022

Amy Arntson

Kyra Johnson shoots in a game against Pierz March 9.

A valiant comeback attempt by the Esko girls basketball team fell just short last week as the Eskomos fell 48-42 to Pierz in a Section 7AA girls semifinal game March 9 in Hermantown.

The story of the game was the quick start by the Pioneers, who bolted out to a 25-6 lead in the first half as the Eskomos struggled on offense.

"We came out cold as ice and just didn't hit any shots," said Scott Antonutti, head coach of the No. 2 seeded Eskomos. "We had some open three-point shots and just couldn't get anything to drop."

Esko cut the Pierz lead to 13 points, 27-14 at halftime, and it appeared they were starting to come alive.

"At the start of the second half Aila Gabel started to hit some 3-pointers and we cut the lead down to three at one point," Antonutti said.

"In about a five- or six-minute span she hit three or four 3-pointers and we got back in it."

Esko outscored the Pioneers 28-21 in the second half, but the early hole was too much to overcome.

"We've had some similar games like that this year for whatever reason we started slow," said Antonutti. "It just turned out to be too little, too late for us."

The Eskomos continued to struggle to find a way to stop Kiara Olesch, who finished with 21 points.

Gabel led Esko with 14 points, both Jayden Karppinen and Kyra Johnson had 10 points, while both Avery Kuklinski and Kallie Sinnott recorded 4 points. Johnson also had a big night on the boards by pulling down 14 rebounds.

"In about a five- or six-minute span she hit three or four 3-pointers and we got back in it."

Esko outscored the Pioneers 28-21 in the second half, but the early hole was too much to overcome.

"We've had some similar games like that this year for whatever reason we started slow," said Antonutti. "It just turned out to be too little, too late for us."

Additionally, the Eskomos continued to struggle to find a way to stop Kiara Olesch, who finished with 21 points for Pierz.

Amy Arntson

Esko players and fans celebrate a three-point basket last Wednesday in Hermantown as the Eskomos fell to Pierz in the Section 7AA semifinal.

Gabel led Esko with 14 points, both Jayden Karppinen and Kyra Johnson had 10 points, while both Avery Kuklinski and Kallie Sinnott recorded 4 points. Johnson also had a big night on the boards by pulling down 14 rebounds.

Esko finished the season with a 20-8 record.

"I feel good about the season," Antonutti said. "We proved we could beat some good teams when we beat Superior and Grand Rapids, but at the same time we struggled with other good teams. In our final 20 games, we only gave up 50 or more points twice, so on defense we really took things to heart and played well."

Esko will lose five seniors, including Karppinen, Gabel, Rachel Antonutti, Emily Rengo and Kaitlyn Adkins.

 
 

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