Esko sophomore Jayden Karppinen scored 20 points to lead the Eskomos to a 60-45 home win over Mound Westonka Saturday, Jan. 11.

Esko opened up a 12-2 lead early in the game and each time the White Hawks started to cut into the lead, the Eskomos responded with a small run of their own to extend the lead.

Karppinen scored 14 of her points in the first half, as the Eskomos built a 41-15 lead at the break.

In the second half, Mound Westonka’s Megan Wanner scored seven straight points to cut the lead to 11 with about nine minutes to play, but much like the first half, the Eskomos responded with a run of their own.

Sophomore Rachel Antonutti hit a pair of 3-pointers to power an 11-1 run and extend the lead to 20, ending the White Hawk threat.

Senior Kristy DeMuth ended the game with 16 points for Esko and Wanner scored a game-high 23. No other Mound Westonka player scored more than five points.

Esko's Kristy DeMuth scores past Mound Westonka's Melissa Drill during during the Eskomos' 60-45 home win Saturday, Jan. 11. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal
Esko's Kristy DeMuth scores past Mound Westonka's Melissa Drill during during the Eskomos' 60-45 home win Saturday, Jan. 11. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

Esko — with just two seniors on the roster — has been limited offensively much of the season, but coach Scott Antonutti said the first half against the White Hawks was one of the best his team has played all season.

Despite the offensive struggles, the Eskomos have been strong defensively, something that has kept them competitive as they’ve worked to improve offensively.

“They work hard comprehending the whole thing and seeing the whole floor defensively, and I think we are improving in that regard,” Coach Antonutti said. “It’s easy to tell a kid to front, but if no one is on the back side helping out, you’re still giving up an advantage. I think the overall team defense concept — they are starting to get it.”

The biggest problem for the Eskomos in the first half was poor free throw shooting. Esko was just 2-for-10 in the first half. The team turned it around in the second half as the White Hawks were trying to claw their way back into the game.

The Eskomos hit just four second half field goals, but were 9-for-11 from the free throw line to help preserve the win.

Esko (9-6) is scheduled to host Pequot Lakes at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.

Mound Westonka 25-20—45

Esko 41-19—60

Mound Westonka — Megan Wanner 23, Sydney Eidsness 3, Alicia Hatelstad 2, Greta Blanck 5, H. Drill 1, A. Springer 4, Rachel Mergen 3, Hailey Peterson 2, Taylor Hollins 2. Totals 17 6-12 45.

3-point goals — Wanner 3, Eidsness, Mergen.

Esko — Jayden Karppinen 20, Sarah Wagemaker 7, Mallory Sunnarborg 2, Emily Rengo 7, Kristy DeMuth 16, Rachel Antonutti 8. Totals 21 11-21 60.

3-point goals — Karppinen 3, Rengo, DeMuth, Antonutti 2.