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Eskomos nip 'Jacks in season opener

Cloquet senior Carmen Foss scores a basket over Esko's Hannah Stark during Tuesday night's basketball game. Foss scored 14 points in the 50-44 Lumberjack loss. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal1 / 2
Esko junior Kaitlyn Bergerson drives to the basket past Cloquet's Kate Owens during Tuesday night's season opening basketball game at Esko High School. Bergerson scored 10 points in Esko's Esko 50-44 win. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal2 / 2

The Esko and Cloquet girls basketball teams opened the season Tuesday night in Esko, with the Eskomos coming away with a 50-44 win.

"I think both teams focused on getting our post players involved in the offense early and to get each of them a lot of touches," Esko coach Scott Antonutti said. "It was a somewhat typical first game, I think. Both teams missed some shots that they would like to 'do over' and there was a substantial number of unforced turnovers."

While the game may not have been as well-played as both coaches would have liked, it was still a highly entertaining game for the fans. Both teams tried to run the floor early with the Eskomos sneaking out to a six-point halftime lead.

"The tempo was definitely upbeat at times for both teams; however, we saw fatigue set in and had to adjust our defense," Cloquet coach Heather Young said. "Both teams like to run the floor, but at times we threw chances away due to fatigue. The great thing about fatigue is we can control that — we just need to be in better game shape and that will come as our season rolls on."

A big key to the win for Esko was a first half surge that led to a 27-21 halftime lead.

"At one point, I think we went on a 11- to 13-point run to get a significant lead (27-15) with about two and a half minutes to go in the first half," Antonutti said. "During our run, we did a nice job of running through our offense, we were patient and we made shots. Unfortunately for us, we came out of a timeout right after that and struggled with controlling the tempo of the game to close the half."

The Eskomos got double-digit scoring from Bridget Yellin, who finished with 17 points, and Kaitlyn Bergerson, who had 10 points. Annika Wold chipped in with seven for Esko; Kristy DeMuth had six; and Sydney Hanson and Macy Sunnarborg added four points to the Eskomo offense.

"We emphasized trying to get Bridget a lot of touches and she had a good matchup with (Carmen) Foss," Antonutti said. "Bridget did a nice job rebounding all night. She ended up with a nice stat line: 17 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks."

Cloquet got solid offensive efforts from Kendra Kelley with 16 points and Foss with 14 points. Allie Wojtysiak added nine points for the 'Jacks while Vanna Kelley scored three points and Kate Owens added two for Cloquet.

"Carmen Foss and Kendra Kelley played well for us — offensively and defensively," Young said. "Kendra did a great job on Sunnarborg and Foss held her own in the paint with Yellin. Other players contributed throughout the night here and there — we just need more consistency from the team as a whole."

Both teams will be on the road Thursday, Nov. 30, with Esko traveling to Hermantown and Cloquet heading to Superior.