Boys Basketball Roundup: Esko senior duo combine to define team playA roundup of Carlton County boys basketball with a focus on Esko.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
With basketball his only sport, Esko senior Bobby Wright describes his center position like a full-time job.
“My job is to shut down the opposing center, grab every board I can get and take the shot if I’m open,” said Wright, a sturdy 6-foot-4, 200-pound post player. “I do the dirty work, I guess.”
Wright’s partner on the job is fellow senior Ben Hanson, a speedy 6-foot-2, 160-pound forward, who serves as captain. Both have been playing on the Esko varsity team for three seasons. Both players provide deadening defense, unselfishness and, most importantly, a team-first approach.
“Both of them are the best examples I can give anyone of total team players,” said longtime Esko Coach Mike Devney. “They play defense, set screens and know exactly what we do. They know we have scorers, and are willing to do whatever it takes so we can be successful. Both are constant team players.”
In Tuesday night’s 71-40 win over Deer River, the Warriors’ 6-foot-6 center Noah Kaczor was tamed inside by Wright while Hanson held the hot-handed Henry Hellmann to four field goals for Deer River.
“I couldn’t care less about scoring points,” Hanson said. “It’s all about getting the win with the boys. That’s all that matters.”
Esko (13-3) matters a lot this winter. Winners of three straight and again unbeaten atop the Polar League, the Eskomos rely on hot-shooting juniors Kory Deadrick, Casey Staniger and Marc Peterson. Tuesday, Deadrick led all scorers with 24 points, followed by Staniger’s 21 and
Deadrick, leading the team with an average of 23-plus points and 10-plus rebounds per night, knows Wright and Hanson are as valuable as anyone listed on the roster.
“They’re very important to our team’s success,” Deadrick said. “Ben is our best perimeter defender and Bobby is our post inside. When either of them is out of the game, it’s definitely not in our favor. They need us offensively and we need them defensively. And when it’s all together, it’s pretty unstoppable.”
The twosome’s guidance is evident on the floor, as well.
“They’re great leaders,” Deadrick continued. “Those guys give 150 percent. Teams need guys like that. I just love them.”
“Kory, Marc and Casey can light it up, that’s what they do,” Hanson said. “They’ll get their points. We shoot when we can.”
Devney knows, though, defense will prevail come March.
“If you want to do well in the tournament, you have to have a strong half court set,” he said. “It’s not the Kentucky Derby. You have to get back on defense. And Bobby and Ben lead us.”
“I love my job,” Wright said, “and Bobby enjoys his, too.”
Barnum (13-2) bounced back from its first Polar League loss to visiting Floodwood last Friday by besting league neighbor Cromwell-Wright 78-50 Tuesday in Barnum.
Carlton (5-8) secured back-to-back road wins last week, including their latest over Polar League host Silver Bay 64-37.
Cloquet (6-7) cracked its previous three-game losing stretch when the Lumberjacks lashed host Mesabi East 83-37 last Friday in Aurora. It was Cloquet’s first win in the last 10 days.
Cromwell-Wright (5-6) was worn down by Polar League nemesis Barnum 78-50 Tuesday night on the road. The Cardinals have been inconsistent as of late, splitting their last six contests.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (6-6) was overturned at Minneapolis Roosevelt 89-73 Saturday afternoon for a second straight defeat.
Moose Lake-Willow River (9-4) mauled Duluth Marshall 98-29 Tuesday in Moose Lake for their third consecutive victory.
South Ridge (7-4) rattled off its third straight win edging the Bluestreaks 54-49 in Chisholm last Friday.
Wrenshall (4-6) was whipped by host Esko 73-38 last week in a Polar League pounding for its third loss in four contests.