Esko senior Peyton Wefel hit four free throws over the final minute and 10 seconds to complete a comeback from 13 down and top Moose Lake-Willow River 75-73 Friday, Jan. 3, Willow River.
Wefel scored a game-high 31 points — 17 in the second half — in a game that ended with two technical fouls called on the Rebels in the final minute of the game. The technicals combined with three personal fouls allowed Wefel and Riley Fischer to combine for 12 free throw attempts in the final minute.
“I knew Riley hit one to tie the game, I thought I had to hit one at least,” Wefel said. “I feel I’m a pretty good free throw shooter, so I just drowned out the crowd, do your routine and it was easy.”
Esko fell behind 71-58 after MLWR went on an 18-5 run with about 7 minutes left in the game. Coach Derek Anderson called a timeout to settle his team down and focus the team’s defense.
The Rebels scored only two more points in the game and didn’t hit another field goal after Anderson’s timeout.
“We switched up our defense and Eli Blue actually picked up a few steals and we hit a few free throws and we got them on their heels,” Wefel said. “Once you’ve got them on their heels, you just drive at them and score. We had them right where we wanted them even though we were still down.”
MLWR coach Wes Cummins was upset with the officiating down the stretch that included a technical on the Rebel bench when Brady Watrin fouled out with about a minute to play. Logan Orvedahl received the second technical when he encouraged the crowd just before Fischer’s attempt with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game and the Eskomos trailing by two.
Fischer and Wefel hit 2-of-4 free throws to give Esko their first lead since early in the second half and forced the Rebels to foul. Wefel hit another free throw with less than a half-second remaining to seal the win.
The Rebels also were dealt a devastating blow with about 4 minutes to play when leading scorer Mason Olson left the game with a foot injury. Olson had 17 points when he left.
Watrin picked up his fifth foul with 1:10 to play, leading to the first technical on the Rebel bench. Watrin finished with 14 points.
“Our two players that handled most of our offense were out, and we had to rely on a bunch of sophomores and role players to carry that game in and they should have,” Cummins said. “They did play well enough to win the game until other things took it away from them.”
Esko (8-2) is next scheduled to play at Grand Rapids at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.
MLWR (8-3) will play at Aitkin at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Esko — Peyton Wefel 31, James LeGarde 22, Riley Fischer 5, Jonah Randa 3, Preston Lowe 2, Eli Blue 9, Braden Gabel 3. Totals 27 13-25 75.
3-point goals — Wefel 2, LeGarde 4, Randa, Gabel.
Moose Lake-Willow River — Logan Orvedahl 6, Ben Dewey 3, Brady Watrin 14, Phillip Sheetz 11, Mason Olson 17, Michael Olson 6, Carter Johnson 10, Landin Kurhajetz 6. Totals 25 13-18 73.
3-point goals — Dewey, Sheetz 3, Mason Olson 2, Michael Olson 2, Johnson 2.