The Eskymos were quite impressive in the third quarter Thursday night against Calumet. And then they were not-so-impressive in the fourth quarter but escaped a furious comeback from the Copper Kings to pull out a 65-59 non-league victory.
Esky led 28-18 at halftime and then kicked its up-tempo game into high gear on the way to a commanding 52-33 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Copper Kings, however, had no plans to start packing up the gear early for the long bus ride home.
Calumet went to a full-court press and forced many turnovers and hit four 3-pointers — the third one by Ava Anderson to cut Esky’s lead to 59-56 with 49 seconds left to play.
But a quick basket by Katie Wilson upped the lead to 61-56 and two free throws by Nicole Kamin made it 63-56 with 12 seconds remaining. Calumet (7-8) managed a final 3-pointer by freshman Elli Djerf with six seconds left but ran out time.
For Esky (8-6), it wasn’t pretty, but it was the Eskymos’ fifth win in the last six games.
About that Jekyll and Hyde-type play?
“It’s the same thing as Kingsford the other night,” Esky coach Mike Beveridge said. “We go through stretches where they tighten up a little bit and they play not to screw up. But I think they grew up a lot tonight because they battled through that dry spell and started playing good basketball.
“We choked a little bit there and let them back in the game. And they shot well. They started hitting their 3s, so bad timing on our part and good shooting on their part, it put together a close game.”
All Calumet coach Jeff Twardzik wants is a complete game. He saw his team connect on 8-of-30 shots in the first half while converting seven of its nine 3-pointers in the second half.
“It’s what’s been going on for the year,” he said. “We just can’t keep focus for an entire game. We are just trying to put a whole game together. If we could play like the fourth quarter for an entire game, we’d be OK.
“We just have a hard time scoring. They aren’t putting up ugly shots. It’s feet set, hands ready and they shoot the ball and they’re just not making them.”
Kamin, the versatile freshman was making shots for Esky and finished with a team-high 19 points and five rebounds. Mykenzie Monkevich followed with 16 points and Wilson came off the bench to produce 11 points and seven rebounds.
Brea Johnson made her share of shots and finished with a team-high 19 points for Calumet and was the lone player in double figures. Twardzik cited point guard Niina Anderson and Djerf, who recently was elevated to the varsity and scored nine points, for a strong game.
Esky’s quickness and aggressiveness paid off in the third quarter, and that was by design.
“We laid an egg at Kingsford in the third quarter,” said Beveridge, whose team had a 24-point lead late in the third quarter. ” I said, ‘Do not let up this quarter like Kingsford.’ I said, ‘Now you pour it on’ and we did. I knew there was another notch they could go. It just kind of got flat in the fourth.
Point guard Lexi Chaillier dished off eight assists to help the cause in what Beveridge called a nice team victory.
“Nicole is a game changer when she gets going,” he said. “Monkevich and Lexi are always in the action. We had good bench support tonight. Taylor Gauthier came in and did well. Katie Wilson came in and did well.
“We just have to work on keeping our momentum and our tempo going and be smart with it — when to pull (the ball out) and when not to pull out. And that is where we are learning. We are getting better.”
Escanaba won the JV game 61-52.
Calumet returns to action Monday at Houghton, while Esky travels to Gladstone Monday.
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Calumet 7 11 15 26 — 59
Escanaba 14 14 24 13 — 65
Calumet — Anderson 7, B. Johnson 19, Bjorn 8, Johnson 3, A. Anderson 3, Kiilunen 2, Kariniemi 8, Djerf 9. FT: 6-13; F: 18; Fouled out: Bjorn. 3-point field goals: N. Anderson, B. Johnson 4, A. Johnson, A. Anderson, Djerf 2.
Escanaba — Kamin 19, Monkevich 16, Chaillier 6, Wilson 11, Stannard 5, Barron 4, Gauthier 2, Griffin 2. FT: 12-15; F: 12. Fouled out: none. 3-point field goals: Kamin, Monkevich, Stannard.