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Esko cruises to win against Floodwood

FLOODWOOD, Minn. - The Esko boys basketball team is back on the sunny side of the .500 mark after Tuesday night's 55-38 win at Floodwood. "I like where we're going," Eskomos coach Mike Devney said. "I think we are getting better and seeing some i...

FLOODWOOD, Minn. - The Esko boys basketball team is back on the sunny side of the .500 mark after Tuesday night's 55-38 win at Floodwood.

"I like where we're going," Eskomos coach Mike Devney said. "I think we are getting better and seeing some improvement. Until midway through the second half, it was a three-point game and our defense pulled us through."

Jamie Stokes scored 21 points to lead Esko (6-5), while Cody Townsend added 17 more.

"Floodwood is very well coached and they are going to win a lot of ball games," Devney said. "We don't have a lot of experience back from last season and I think games like this will make us better."

Devney's praise for his team's defense was profound.

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"We have to play good defense because we don't have great perimeter shooting," he explained. "So, we have to grind it out in the halfcourt offense. It's big for us when we can get Jamie Stokes and Cody Townsend scoring like they have been."

And despite the score, Devney believes games like last weekend's 76-39 loss to Duluth East will eventually help improve the team as well. East got 23 points from Johnny Woodard and 16 from super-scorer Dyami Starks to win going away. The Greyhounds built a 47-20 halftime lead and Esko never recovered.

Townsend scored 17 and Stokes 12 to lead Esko.

"We were kind of overmatched and a little intimidated," Devney said. "We started poorly and never got any confidence.

Also, since Esko beat them last year, Devney thought the team was out to get them a little bit and wanted to even the score.

"We had a lot of good looks at the basket but we shot the ball very poorly," Devney said. "We could have stayed within 15 or 20 of them but when you don't shoot the ball well you can't stay close."

Devney noted that all five of Esko's losses this season have been to schools in larger classes.

"When you play a Class AAAA school like East, you have to look at it as a benefit when you play schools closer to your own size," he said. "I almost feel bad sending the kids out there without so much experience when you look at some of the teams we've played."

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Indeed, Esko's schedule has been difficult. Chisago Lakes, North St. Paul, Denfeld and East have all played Esko this season and the team's first loss of the year was in the opening game to Hermantown, a Class AAA school.

"That's brutal for a young team," Devney said.

It doesn't get a whole lot easier. Esko hosts McGregor on Friday night and is at Virginia on Saturday. Next week features games against Crosby-Ironton and natural rival Moose Lake-Willow River.

"We'll hopefully be tougher thanks to some of the opposition we've played," Devney said. "The whole idea is to be better come tournament time."

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