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Boys Basketball Roundup

WILLOW RIVER - As the game's leading scorer with a hot second-half hand, Esko sophomore Marc Peterson could have easily fired up a jumper in the closing seconds of Saturday's boys basketball game with Moose Lake-Willow River.

WILLOW RIVER - As the game's leading scorer with a hot second-half hand, Esko sophomore Marc Peterson could have easily fired up a jumper in the closing seconds of Saturday's boys basketball game with Moose Lake-Willow River.

Instead, he gave those duties to teammate Jackson Lindquist.

With the score tied in the final 17 seconds, Peterson snapped a pass over to Lindquist on the left side of the court, where the senior drained a fall-away jumper just inside the three-point arc to lead the Eskomos to a thrilling 61-59 Polar League win at Willow River High School.

"That's captain leadership right there," Peterson said of Lindquist's clutch, eventual game-winner. "Once the pass left my hand, I knew the shot was going in."

Lindquist, a 1,000-plus-point scorer, went through multiple screens on the play, where he eventually got the ball, took a dribble and knocked down a deep deuce. The possession before, Lindquist turned the ball over to allow ML-WR to tie things 59-59, but he was certain he could change the game's outcome following Esko's final timeout.

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"I was confident I could hit it," said Lindquist, who finished with 18 points on the night. "We came out [from the timeout] and Marc just gave me a good pass to hit it."

"There was definitely no lack of effort on our end," said ML-WR Coach Neil Dickenson. "[Lindquist] just hit a good shot. He's a really good player."

Esko Coach Mike Devney said their final play didn't go as planned.

"[Moose Lake-Willow River] stuffed the initial set play," Devney said. "We didn't really run what we initially wanted to do, but we got away with it tonight."

The rivalry between the Eskomos (11-3) and Rebels (8-5) is arguably the biggest around. In a game that featured eight lead changes and six ties before a nearly sold-out gymnasium, Esko pulled away from a 31-31 halftime tie and never trailed after Peterson scored the

second-half's opening bucket.

"Once we got the lead, though, we didn't play smart," Devney said of his Eskomos, which led by as much as 11 points with six minutes to go. "The kids played hard, but we all know we can play smarter. We can't give up the opportunities we did tonight. But we're happy with a win."

Peterson, a 6-foot-3 guard who scored 13 of his game-leading 23 points following halftime, wasn't concerned with his personal feats as much as his Eskomos' first win over the Rebels since the 2006-07 season. The victory also kept Esko unbeaten atop the Polar League this winter.

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"This was our biggest win of the year, by far," Peterson said. "We didn't play our best and have plenty to work on, but we wanted this one bad."

Peterson and Lindquist again led Esko past Crosby-Ironton 72-44 Tuesday at home as well, but won't soon forget their win against ML-WR last weekend.

"[Moose Lake-Willow River] has always been our biggest rival growing up," Lindquist said. "It's always our biggest game of the year. These wins are the fun ones. I love it."

After Lindquist's jumper, Rebel senior center Taylor Mattison's three-pointer went off the back iron of the rim as time expired last Saturday, and ML-WR saw their five-game winning streak come to a halt.

Mattison scored 13 points for the Rebels, while senior forward Caleb Koecher led with 18 and junior guard Jake Disterhaupt added 10 in their first home loss of the season.

ML-WR will again play at Esko come Feb. 10.

"These games just seem to come down to the end," Dickenson said. "I just told my guys they played hard and with a lot of character. It was just a good basketball game. It always is."

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Barnum (9-2) quickly rebounded from their first Polar League loss to ML-WR last week by dumping host Pine City 73-45 on the road last Thursday. The Bombers have won seven of their past eight games and have fallen just once in a month's time.

Carlton (3-8) snapped their previous eight-game losing stretch when they slipped past Polar League nemesis Cromwell-Wright last Friday away from home. Erik Adams paced the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Lane Empson added 13 in Carlton's first win since their pair of openers against Wrenshall Dec. 2 and Two Harbors Dec. 9.

Cloquet (4-8) cruised to a weekend victory over Chisago Lakes Area at home Saturday, yet followed with a 58-52 loss at Northwestern Monday night. The Lumberjacks were led by Adam Laine's 27 points, while Trent Moe added 18. Cloquet scored only seven other points in their fourth loss in their last six games.

Cromwell-Wright (3-9) continued their recent slide, as the Cardinals dropped their third straight and seventh contest in eight attempts Tuesday when they lost 49-36 at Polar League foe Cook County. Jared Hutar led Cromwell-Wright with 11 points, while Jake Ramberg collected eight. The Cards also fell in games to Carlton and McGregor last week.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe (4-6) has stayed rested, as the Ogichidaa haven't played since whipping Carlton 86-46 last Tuesday at home. FDL has been paced by high-flying lynchpin Kello Brown, as they've posted wins over the Bulldogs, Minnesota Transitions Charter, Silver Bay and Mesabi Academy.

South Ridge (8-4) recently lost a thriller when Eveleth-Gilbert tipped the Panthers 67-63 in overtime on the Iron Range. Stellar South Ridge was guided by Dan Wood's 20 points, while Kody Karppinen added 14. It was just their second loss of the New Year.

Wrenshall (0-10) remains winless this season after Tuesday's competititve 66-61 loss at Northeast Range in Babbitt, Minn. With the defeat, the Wrens have now lost 32 of their last 33 games dating back to the beginning of last season.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (0-14) fell 79-54 to Gogebic in Ironwood, Mich., on Monday, on the heels of losses to Mesabi Range and Vermilion last week. Against Gogebic, Carlos Holcey scored 22 points and Tyler Campbell added 14. They'll next host Itasca Saturday at 3 p.m. on campus in Cloquet.

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