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Eskymos’ inside game enough to beat WIC

Boys Basketball

ESCANABA — Coach Tracy Hudson likes to employ an inside-outside philosophy with his Escanaba boys’ basketball team.

It’s a good approach because the inside game rescued the Eskymos on a night the outside game fizzled Tuesday in a 53-43 non-conference win against visiting West Iron County.

“I thought our front line did a real good job,” Hudson said. “We didn’t have our typical shooting night. We said, ‘You have to own the paint and win the boards,’ and I thought they did that. I thought that was a key. We owned the paint tonight. Our front line did some damage on the boards.”

Esky (13-3) out-rebounded the Wykons 50-30 and relied on its big men — 6-foot-4 junior Jared Nash (17 points, 16 rebounds), 6-foot-5 junior Austin Willette (13 points, 10 rebounds) and 6-foot-6 freshman Carter Hudson (nine points, nine rebounds, eight blocks). They pulled the wagon on a night Esky’s guards managed only 14 points, including seven by senior point guard Ryan Robinette.

The Eskymos rebounded from two tough losses last week against Iron Mountain and Marquette, but had to work from start to finish against a feisty Wykons’ squad that battled to the final whistle.

Steve Nelson’s slam dunk pulled West Iron within 48-39 with 2:46 remaining, but Esky closed out the game with a bucket by Willette and a three-point play from Nash down the stretch.

“All three of my shooters were off and it was in and out and in and out and in and out,” West Iron coach Dave Schive said. “We make a couple of those (3-pointers) while we’re making a run and all of a sudden it’s four points or five points and maybe it’s a different game.

“We don’t roll over for anybody,” Schive added. We don’t play the easiest schedule and we get in a lot of these games. A lot of times we’re not as good. But we fight and bang and battle and push. I ‘m assuming, and hoping, come tournament time that we will be ready to play in some of these physical battles.”

Junior forward Caden Pellizzer led the Wykons (8-8) with 18 points and six rebounds and Nelson, the 6-8 senior center, followed with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Nelson suffered a slight sprained ankle in the first quarter, but still played the rest of the game.

Schive did not play James Swanson, who has been nursing a recent ankle injury.

“To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t be any prouder of the effort they put forth tonight, because I was down a starter and for a lot of the game I had a freshman and two sophomores in there,” Schive said. “I rested (Swanson) tonight because I need him for the end of the year more than I needed him tonight.”

West Iron, which trailed 17-9 after one quarter and 29-19 at halftime, needed a better shooting night. The Wykons hit 2-of-18 shots from 3-point range and finished 12-of-56 for 21 percent.

Esky didn’t put on a shooting clinic, either, making 2-of-17 3-pointers and 23-of-67 overall for 34 percent.

The Eskymos got it done in the paint. Nash scored six inside points to start the third quarter as Esky rolled to its biggest lead of 40-21. But the Wykons went on a 9-0 run to trail 40-30 entering the fourth quarter.

The Wykons couldn’t get over the hump in the final quarter.

Hudson went with a big lineup against the Wykons and it paid off.

“I thought Jared Nash really attacked the glass,” Hudson said. “I thought he had maybe his best game. This was a really good game for him. He really stepped up.”

Escanaba won the JV contest 62-30.

On Friday, West Iron will travel to L’Anse and Esky will visit Houghton.

West Iron County 9 10 11 13 — 43

Escanaba 17 12 11 13 — 53

WEST IRON COUNTY (43): Thomson 2, Pellizzer 18, B. Nelson 2, Tomasoski 4, Williams 5, S. Nelson 12. FT: 17-20. F: 12. 3PT: Williams, S. Nelson.

ESCANABA (53): Robinette 7, Fedell 6, Kamin 1, Nash 17, Willette 13, Hudson 9. FT: 5-10; F: 19 (Willette fouled out). 3PT: Fedell 2.