Double the fun: Superior edges Esko in double OT
Though Superior and Esko won't cross paths again this season, the intensity during Monday's high school girls basketball game easily matched that of seasoned playoff rivals.
While Esko reached a pair of significant individual milestones, Superior came away with the only statistic that mattered: a 65-63 double-overtime victory at home in a game pitting the top-ranked News Tribune large and small schools.
"That game lived up to its billing on both sides," Superior coach Phil Roe said. "There was a lot of hype for this game -- this was for the best in the Northland, period. It very easily could have gone either way."
The Eskomos, ranked third in Minnesota Class AA, sent the game into overtime on Kallyn Knutson's buzzer-beating 3-pointer and forced a second overtime on a Claudia Turner free throw. But junior Jessica Lindstrom hit a 3-pointer from the corner to open the second extra session and the Spartans (16-1), the fifth-ranked team in Wisconsin Division 1, survived a shaky finish from the free-throw line to win their fifth consecutive game.
Despite a pair of early fouls, Lindstrom scored 21 points; Hailey Kontny had 13 and Alyssa Correll added 12.
Claudia Turner led the Eskomos (18-2) with 21 points and surpassed 1,000 for her career -- most of which came at nearby Barnum before transferring for her senior season. Senior Savanna Trapp, Esko's 6-foot-9 UCLA-bound center, had 16 points and blocked four shots to set a Minnesota career blocks record with 645 (Lakeville North's Cassie Rochel held the previous mark of 643).
"It's something special and shows how hard I've worked over all these years," Trapp said. "We're just going to keep stacking them up and see how high we can get it."
Trapp sat out most of the first half after picking up three early fouls. But the Eskomos still overcame a seven-point deficit and took a 27-25 lead at halftime thanks to 3-pointers by Knutson, Marisa Shady and Erika Shady.
Esko built an eight-point lead at 40-32 late in the third quarter before the Spartans turned up the intensity and scored the final eight points of the quarter.
Neither team led by more than three in the final eight minutes of regulation, and when Correll hit two free throws with 9.1 seconds left it seemingly assured victory. But Knutson nailed the tying shot as the horn sounded to tie the game at 50 and set up another close finish for the Spartans, who improved to 5-0 in games decided by five points or less.
That includes the school's first win over Chippewa Falls in 25 years, another squeaker over unbeaten D.C. Everest and a one-point win over Eau Claire Memorial on Abby Clemons' three-point play at the buzzer.
"We've won close games all year against some of the best teams in Wisconsin," Roe said. "This team has been there before and never stopped believing."
That's a change from in past years when the Spartans lost a lot of games at the end.
"This year we have a lot more teamwork and team chemistry; we work very well together," Lindstrom said. "We are very calm and keep our mindset on what we need to do at the time."
Esko coach Scott Antonutti, whose team had not been involved in a close game all year and had its 18-game winning streak shelved, was proud of how his team played against a much-larger school.
"Both teams battled and some pride was on the line -- unfortunately we came up short," he said. "It was a good test for both teams, and that's what we want heading into playoffs."
Even though her team was on the losing end, Trapp agreed it was a memorable contest.
"It was definitely the most intense game we've had all year," she said. "It was a fun game, and I'm definitely going to remember it."
Esko -- Erika Shady 3, Kallyn Knutson 6, Marisa Shady 4, Bailey Mudek 5, Claudia Turner 21, Brooke Schramm 2, Molly Trapp 6, Savanna Trapp 16. Totals 21 9-20 63.
3-point goals -- E. Shady, Knutson 2, M. Shady, Mudek, Turner.
Superior -- Abby Clemons 10, Alison Wainionpaa 4, Rachel Fergin 2, Natalie Kintop 3, Jessica Lindstrom 21, Alyssa Correll 12, Hailey Kontny 13. Totals 24 13-23 65.
3-point goals -- Clemons 2, Lindstrom 2.