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

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.

      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.