Boys Basketball Roundup...News about Esko, Moose Lake and other area teamsStaniger shoots Esko over Rebels
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Even as a fourth-grader, Casey Staniger would nail three-pointers farther behind the arc than anyone else.
Nowadays, the Esko junior is nearly unguardable.
Staniger scored a game-leading 20 points, but it was his fourth and final three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that elevated the Eskomos past rival Moose Lake-Willow River 62-61 in a Polar League boys basketball game last Friday evening in Moose Lake.
A crowded audience watched as Esko trailed 61-59, before Staniger came around a screen-and-roll atop the key with teammate Kory Deadrick, beat Rebels defender Brad Fossum, and drained his eventual game-winner, from well behind the arc.
“I don’t just shoot it deep, to shoot it deep – it’s my natural shot,” Staniger said of his regular 20-plus-foot heaves, including last week’s winner beyond 25 feet. “I’ve never had a game-winner. I’m just lucky that it went down and happy we pulled out a win.”
The Eskomos (17-4) won an earlier meeting against their biggest nemesis, but last week’s matchup was much closer. With ML-WR ahead 31-29 at halftime and by as much as 11 points with eight minutes to play according to fourth-year Rebels Coach Neil Dickenson, Esko applied pressure late, erased the deficit and found Staniger, before hanging on until the game’s closing horn.
“Casey wants the ball in those situations. Some guys don’t,” said Eskomos Coach Mike Devney, now in his 14th season. “He’s got tremendous range, probably the best I’ve seen in all my years coaching. I’ve seen him hit shots from around 30 feet or farther.”
The Eskomos remain unbeaten atop the league. Last week’s victory was their 24th straight Polar League win and fourth in a row against the Rebels.
Along with Staniger, Marc Peterson scored 17 points, while Deadrick added 15 in a win he noted leaned on their entire lineup.
“It was a total team effort,” Deadrick said. “Marc hit a couple jumpers, Jaxson Turner made two free-throws and Ben Hanson had some steals. Then we had a chance to win, and Casey capitalized.”
ML-WR (14-7), although healthier and playing better, failed to capitalize last week, knowing they let a victory get away late.
“If we just cut down on our turnovers and make our free-throws, we can play with anyone,” Dickenson said. “We’ve been competing a lot better lately, and we were pretty even with Esko.”
Jake Disterhaupt led the Rebels with 18 points. Fossum had 14 and both Tony Adamczak and Ezra Szczyrbak added 11 apiece.
“We have to finish the game’s final five minutes,” Disterhaupt said. “We have to cut back on mistakes and be more mentally tough. We have to put it together; we have more talent than most.”
“Neil was right when he said he has a football team playing basketball,” added Devney. “It’s not an easy place to play down there: they’re physical. And we have to get a little bit tougher.”
Barnum (19-2) blew by visiting Proctor 72-44 Monday evening, as the Bombers have now won seven straight contests.
Carlton (8-11) cradled a victory over Polar League nemesis Cromwell-Wright 62-56 Tuesday to snap three former losses. For the Bulldogs, it was their first win in the month of February.
Cloquet (13-8) ceased past neighboring Esko 68-61 Monday night in Cloquet. The Lumberjacks have now won four straight, also breaking the Eskomos’ previous seven-game winning spurt.
Cromwell-Wright (7-10) was shortened by visiting Carlton 62-56 Tuesday evening in a Polar League dandy at Cromwell.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (12-7) was obliterated by host Minneapolis Roosevelt Saturday on the road. Their near 30-point loss snapped the Ogichidaa’s former six-game winning stretch.
South Ridge (10-7) ran into an 88-73 loss to Ely Tuesday night in Culver, as the Panthers lost their first game in four tries.
Wrenshall (7-11) was toppled by host Hill City 71-63 Tuesday evening for the Wrens’ second loss in as many games.
FDLTCC (5-18) carded its third straight home loss, as the Thunder was thumped by Vermilion 91-52 Saturday in Cloquet.