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STATE BASKETBALL: Eskomos eliminate Green Wave, barely

The Esko Boys Basketball team celebrates their Class AA quarterfinal win in overtime vs. East Grand Forks at Williams Arena. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal1 / 2
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MINNEAPOLIS — Last Saturday, the East Grand Forks boys hockey team won the state championship.

      With the Green Wave riding their wave of winning spirit down to Wednesday evening’s state boys basketball tournament, Esko made sure an encore wasn’t in store.

      Although it wasn’t easy, the Eskomos edged East Grand Forks 57-54 in overtime of the Class AA quarterfinal Wednesday on the campus of University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

      Trailing 26-25 at halftime, No. 2 Esko (27-3), in their fourth-ever state tournament and second straight, earned the lead on an early 8-0 second-half run, but the unseeded Green Wave (20-10) never faded far from the tight game.

      In fact, during the game’s waning seconds, senior center Jim Warmack — who scored a game-high 24 points, including East Grand Forks’ first 12 of the game — nailed a high-bouncing right-wing 3-pointer to extend things to overtime and electrify the Green Wave’s student section.

      “It’s been awesome,” said East Grand Forks Coach Travis Lindgren, noting the Green Wave was making their school’s first basketball state tournament trip in 43 years.

      “We had to regroup; we knew it was a four-minute game and the winner moved on,” said Esko Coach Mike Devney of Warmack’s shot. “Fortunately for us, we did.”

      That was barely the case for Devney’s bunch, which were stagnant from the free-throw line, at just 13-of-23.

      “That’s not good,” Devney said of the 57-percent clip.

      Esko senior Marc Peterson, who had 16 points, was the only good free-throw shooter, as the 6-foot-2 guard sank all six tries, counting his team’s final two points, before East Grand Forks missed two 3-point tries to again tie it up.

      “[Marc] stepped up,” said classmate Kory Deadrick, who also had 24 points, but was just 2-of-6 from the charity line. “He had a big game on a big stage. He saved us.”

      Persistent that it took a total team effort to win, Peterson said he felt good and his depth perception was on.

      “I was confident in my shot,” Peterson said after the victory. “I was shooting the ball well all week at practice.”

      Devney said his Eskomos will practice free-throws at the University of St. Thomas tomorrow, before their 8 p.m. semifinal with Fairmont (25-4) Friday at the Target Center.

      “Hopefully we’ll shoot a couple hundred,” Deadrick said outside of the locker room. “I’ll probably shoot 500.”