BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Esko defense deadens Cloquet in comeback
CLOQUET--Just an instant after exiting the locker room Monday evening, Esko's Adam Trapp was talking about trigonometry and the test he had to take the following day.
CLOQUET-Just an instant after exiting the locker room Monday evening, Esko’s Adam Trapp was talking about trigonometry and the test he had to take the following day.
Mathematically speaking, Trapp is also a good addition to the Esko boys basketball team this winter, as the towering 7-foot freshman is of rare height at just 15 years old.
For the second straight year, Esko earned a victory over Cloquet, hurdling a two-point halftime deficit for a 66-51 win before a body-to-body packed gym in Cloquet Monday, helped by Trapp’s efficiency around the basket.
Scoring 16 points - one of three Eskomos in double-figures along with senior Aaron Olson’s team-high 19 and junior Jaxson Turner’s 16 - the left-handed Trapp was 6-of-7 from the field and just as effective altering shots defensively.
That defense, as a team, carried Esko (17-6), the defending Class AA state champs, to their cross-county win.
Down 35-33 at halftime - in a game in which the Eskomos didn’t score until Trapp’s left-baseline score almost five minutes into the contest - the visitors threw the clamps down in the second, holding the Lumberjacks (13-9) to only 16 points.
Again, it was Trapp who sank a free throw at 15:59 for a 38-37 advantage - on a 10-0 Esko run - that gave them a lead they never lost, much to Coach Mike Devney’s liking.
“Defensively, I wasn’t very happy at halftime,” Devney said. “But to hold them to 16, we played a tremendous second half. You can always control your effort on the defensive side of the ball. I like how we’re playing.”
Playing without key scorer Zach Gerlach, a senior out with a sprained ankle, Cloquet centered on Nate Weets and Mason Brenner, who scored a game-best 21 and 16 points, respectively, but Coach Steve Battaglia made no excuses.
“We thoroughly got beat up in the second half,” said Battaglia, noting Esko shot 18 free throws after halftime to his team’s zero. “And when [Esko] gets a lead, they’re solid. They don’t turn it over. They played at their pace and totally dictated what they wanted to do once they got up on us.”
Trapp helped that effort, as the always-tallest kid in his grade also has sisters in 6-foot-9 Savannah at UCLA, as well as 6-foot-5 Molly, a senior at Esko headed to South Dakota State next fall.
Turner, a modest 6-foot-2, likes his big teammate.
“It’s nice to have a 7-footer,” he cracked. “You know if someone gets by you, they probably are not going to score.”
For Trapp, however, who suffered two broken bones in his right hand earlier this year, the biggest score is math.
“Basketball is fun,” Trapp admitted. “Homework is first.”
Barnum (22-0) blew past Deer River 70-35 Monday to remain unbeaten and ranked second Class AA.
Carlton (7-14) came back to top South Ridge 97-83 in overtime Tuesday in a Polar League game needing extra time.
Cromwell-Wright (11-9) won their fourth straight when the Cards cruised by Polar League host Carlton 65-43 last Friday.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (12-11) overwhelmed visiting Wrenshall 78-51 Tuesday in Cloquet. The Ogichidaa are getting hot at the right time, having won five games in a row.
Moose Lake-Willow River (11-11) ran into International Falls and a 57-54 defeat last Saturday on the Canadian border.
South Ridge (4-16) rivaled host Carlton in a Polar League overtime contest Tuesday, but the Panthers dissipated, 97-83.
Wrenshall (15-7) was whipped by Fond du Lac Ojibwe 78-51 Tuesday in Cloquet, as the Wrens ended two victories.
FDLTCC (4-16) found a 96-75 loss at Minnesota College Athletic Conference rival Mesabi Range last week in Virginia. The Thunder, losers of 10 of 11, will play at home this weekend.