Eskomos show depth in another big win
January 27, 2023
The Esko boys basketball team proved again Friday why it's a favorite in local basketball circles. The Eskomos hosted Moose Lake/Willow River - another perennial local basketball power - and handed the Rebels an 89-59 loss.
"Esko is just a physical and athletic team," said Rebels coach Paul Dewey. "I thought we did a good job on some of their better players, but they have so much depth that sooner or later they are able to find a way to score points."
The Eskomos bolted to a 46-20 halftime lead and had the Rebels on the ropes as they entered the second half. Much of the reason was the strong inside play of Braedyn Male and Carter Zezulka.
"I thought in the first half we played well in our defensive end, and that allowed us to get some transition baskets and work the ball inside to Carter and Braedyn," said Esko coach Derek Anderson. "Zezulka provided us with a ton of energy and he is our defensive leader, and he had a good night finishing around the rim. Male is big, strong and athletic. Our guys look for him inside and around the rim."
Zezulka led the Eskomos with 22 points, Male added 16 points and Koi Perich finished with 18 points.
"Our plan was to focus on Perich and keep him out of the paint," Dewey said. "I thought we did a good job of that, but they have so many weapons that it is hard to stop them all."
The second half saw the Rebels chip away and cut the lead to 13 points before the Eskomos were able to put their foot on the gas and pull away for the 30-point win.
"I thought (ML/WR) was a very well-coached team that didn't panic in the first half and they were patient and looked for their shots," Anderson said. "We seemed to let up a bit in that second half, but then found our way again later in the half and got things clicking again."
Adam Neumann led the Rebels with 18 points, while both Jimmy Walker and Noah Nelson were also in double digits, scoring with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Neumann struggled in that first half with just four points, but he came alive in the second half with 14. Other Rebels to score were Luke Dewey and Eli Youngs with eight points each, while Elliott Wasche and Reese Bode each added two points.
"Despite the loss I do like the things I am seeing with our team," Dewey said. "We lost nine seniors off last year's team, so we are just starting to figure out rotations and roles for each of our players."
Esko added nine points from Sam Haugen, six points each from Dalton Spindler and Zander Gabel, plus three points apiece from Jace Owens, Jake Randa, Jackson Peterson and Bryce Hipp.
"We are fortunate with the depth we have," Anderson said. "We have a lot of guys on this team who would be starters on many other teams around the area. We have a lot of kids who can come off the bench and knock down a three for us and others who come in and play great defense."
Despite a record of 9-2, the Eskomos are not resting on their laurels.
"We feel like we have a lot to work on," Anderson said. "We have some things to clean up and refine, but I like the direction we are heading."
On Monday night, the Rebels knocked off Grand Rapids and the Eskomos were victorious over Aitkin.