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Defense wins the night for Esko

A stifling defense helped the Esko girls basketball team to slowly pull away with a 59-48 road win over Cromwell-Wright Monday night in Cromwell.

"Esko is long and athletic, and we did not pass the ball well against their zone, which created way too many turnovers," said Cards coach Jeff Gronner.

While Gronner's squad struggled to hold onto the ball, Esko was reaping the rewards of their defense.

"Our defense was very good and disruptive tonight," said Esko coach Sue Northey after the game. "Defense has become the trademark of our team this year."

The game was back and forth early in the first half, but turnovers by the Cards started to pile up, and slowly Esko was able to slip out to a 35-30 halftime lead. Key to Esko's first half was also the shooting of Hannah Swanson, who had 12 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, while Cairin Berger also had a big first half with 10 points on her way to 15 points for the game.

"It really wasn't anything that Esko did in the half-court game that hurt us," Gronner said. "We just had too many unforced errors, and then Esko played very [well] with their zone defenses, and they changed up their zones, which caused us problems."

Esko's Kyra Johnson was also in double-digit scoring with 13 points while Kallie Sinnott added seven; it was four for Cadence Berger and 3 points for Kaitlyn McConnell.

The Cards had two players in double-digit scoring as both Emaleigh Olesiak and Isabella Anderson had 10 points, but Anderson struggled with foul trouble and spent much of the time on the sidelines before eventually fouling out late in the game. Siiena Anderson added 7 points, Mya Gronner and Kyra Granholm each scored 6, Jill Anderson added 5 points, and Bryanna Foster finished with 4 points to round out Cromwell's scoring.

"Cromwell is a good team and they are physical to play against," Northey said. It was huge for our kids to go on the road and get the win. Anytime you can go into Cromwell and win a game on that floor, that is a big accomplishment."

The second half saw Esko outscore the Cards 24-18 as they built to the 11-point victory.

Both teams had records of 13-6 following Monday's game.