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Esko wins Coaches Classic

The annual Esko Sports Alliance Coaches Classic championship title rests with the home school after Scott Antonutti's team knocked off Sandstone East Central and Hermantown last weekend.

The annual Esko Sports Alliance Coaches Classic championship title rests with the home school after Scott Antonutti's team knocked off Sandstone East Central and Hermantown last weekend.

On Friday night, the Eskomos needed overtime to subdue East Central in the semifinals, but used a 13-4 run in the extra period to win going away.

"It was a fun game," Antonutti said. "We had a six-point lead late in the game but couldn't hold on."

The Eskomos were up 41-35 in the late going but fell behind 44-42 in the last minute. Esko's Amber Jubie stole the ball from a Hawk player and Keely Deadrick put back a missed shot to tie the game at 44-44, forcing the overtime.

Once there, Esko wouldn't be denied, hitting seven of eight crucial free throws down the stretch. Kelli Rengo had four of her 14 points from the charity stripe in overtime, while Farrah Wirtz scored six of her 10 points in the extra period.

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Rengo and Roz Chromy each scored 14 points for the Eskomos, with Chromy adding 11 rebounds to her season-high point total for a double-double that helped get her team into the finals. Esko survived a barrage of seven three-pointers from the visitors along the way.

Meanwhile, Hermantown defeated Wrenshall in the other semifinal game by a 69-31 score. Eleven different Hawk players scored points as Hermantown raced off to a 38-19 lead at halftime. However, it was Wrenshall's Andrea Gould who led the floor with 14 points on the night. Erin Laveau scored 10 points, all in the second half, and Sam Laveau added nine more.

Hermantown was led by Kaylee Steen's 12 while Laura Kesti added 10 more. Wrenshall had a 25-8 advantage in free throw attempts for the night, hitting 15 from the line.

In Saturday's third-place game, Wrenshall played without Gould and fell 99-35 to East Central's three-point show. The visitors hit 15 three-point shots in the game and won going away.

Rayna Little scored 11 points for Wrenshall and Sam Laveau scored nine for the second straight night, all from beyond the three-point stripe.

That set the stage for Esko's 40-35 win over Hermantown to claim the championship. Again, Esko was good from the free-throw line, needing to be after hitting just 12 shots from the field.

"That's the least amount of shots we've taken in a game," Antonutti said. "It was a slow-paced game without a lot of shooting going on."

The difference was from the line, where Esko was 13-for-18 while Hermantown hit only three of seven attempts. Roz Chromy's 14 points - including a perfect eight-for-eight at the line - paced Esko and the floor.

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"The whole game was close," Antonutti said. "We just played a patient game, not much in it for rebounding or assists, and we made 10 more free throws than they did."

Deadrick added eight for Esko while Steen's 11 points led the Hawks.

Antonutti hopes that next year's tournament will be a step toward returning the tournament to its former size, when it included eight teams in both boys and girls play.

"This year, the junior varsity teams also got to play so that was kind of cool," he said. "We want to bring the boys back into it next year too. We have Hermantown committed to play and we want to keep the tournament growing."

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