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STATE BASKETBALL: Eskomos fend off Fairmont, head to final Saturday

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STATE BASKETBALL: Eskomos fend off Fairmont, head to final Saturday
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

MINNEAPOLIS — A day after their dismal free-throw display in Wednesday’s state boys basketball quarterfinal, Esko Coach Mike Devney took his team to the University of St. Thomas to improve their shooting.

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      The extra practice paid off, as the Eskomos shot their way past Fairmont 56-43 in Friday’s Class AA state semifinal and into Saturday’s state championship game.

      Second-seeded Esko (28-3) trailed the No. 3 Cardinals 27-23 at halftime, before surging ahead early in the second and pulling away late by connecting on all eight free-throws in the contest’s final two minutes.

      Esko’s Kory Deadrick, who made the game’s final two free-throws, collected a game-best 21 points and 14 rebounds, as senior classmate Casey Staniger — who hit six straight freebies beforehand — added in 18 points.

       Esko faces No. 1 Annandale (25-6) for a first-ever state title at 2 p.m. at the Target Center. Fairmont (25-5), led by Josh Eversman’s 15 points Friday, plays for third.

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