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Girls basketball roundup for Carlton County teams

HERMANTOWN - This past summer, Marisa Shady invested in a pair of black knee pads to wear while playing basketball. Admitting she's on the ground a lot, it's safe to say the elusive Esko point guard made a valuable purchase - especially after Mon...

HERMANTOWN - This past summer, Marisa Shady invested in a pair of black knee pads to wear while playing basketball. Admitting she's on the ground a lot, it's safe to say the elusive Esko point guard made a valuable purchase - especially after Monday's mauling with rival Hermantown.

"These things are lifesavers," said the 5-foot-7 junior after Esko's physical 45-36 victory over the host Hawks. "I've had my fair share of floor burns and bruises before this, so I just started wearing them."

Shady, along with others, hit the deck frequently Monday in a defensive struggle against Hermantown in an engagement that seemingly featured more knockdowns than most hockey games have this winter.

"Hermantown is a tough, scrappy, good team," Shady said. "We beat them earlier this season [44-34 in the Esko Coaches Classic championship in December], so we knew they were going to come out and get us. It was a physical game, but we came together and pulled it out. This was a big win for us."

Monday, the fifth-ranked Eskomos (13-1) scored the opening eight points and led 24-13 by halftime, as the Hawks didn't score until nearly nine minutes into the game. Hermantown closed within seven points in the second half, yet never led, losing just their second game at home this season. Esko meanwhile, remained unbeaten on the road.

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"Beating Hermantown here in Hermantown is always tough to do," Esko Coach Scott Antonutti said. "They are physical and you will always see some bangs and bruises between us and them. I don't think our girls mind it, though."

Red-faced, tired and beat-up after the final horn, Esko's 6-foot-9 center Savanna Trapp rated the physicality of Monday's clash.

"I'd give it about an eight," said Trapp, a junior, who was knocked to the floor plenty of times against the aggressive Hawks. "It's usually not this rough, but it's just a continuous battle. And it's always fun to beat someone in their own gym."

Antonutti said Monday's back-and-forth slugfest was fine in his mind. He compared the game to what his Eskomos will face in the

postseason.

"Games that are physical and have a helter-skelter pace like this one are going to get us

playoff-ready," Antonutti said of the current Polar League co-front running Eskomos. "Games like tonight are exactly what they are going to be like for us in the sections."

Trapp led Esko with 16 points, while five other Eskomos also scored in their fifth straight win since the team's lone loss to fourth-ranked Braham Jan. 3. Although Esko is, again, a favorite come March, Trapp said their focus remains simple.

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"Every team is out to get us," said Trapp, who recently reached 1,000 points scored. "But every day, coach tells us we just need to get 1 percent better each day, so we're at our best for the

playoffs."

"Our goal the whole year is to be playing our best in the playoffs," added Shady. "Games like tonight are fun to see how we can respond under pressure to a test."

Just like her knee pads did.

AREA ROUNDUP:

Barnum (15-3) has won three consecutive contests since falling to fifth-ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl last week. The host Bombers drubbed Polar League rival Cromwell-Wright 73-50 Monday, as Katie Myhre scored 23 points, while Claudia Turner and Claire Rodgers added 18 and 17, respectfully.

Cloquet (6-11) dropped their second straight game when they fell to Hibbing 65-43 Tuesday in an injury-plagued affair at Cloquet. Juniors Krista Schmitz and Avery Bieri scored 13 points each to lead the Lumberjacks, who defeated Duluth Denfeld by a point in overtime on the road last Thursday, and were held to 24 points total in a 23-point loss at Crosby-Ironton Saturday.

Cromwell-Wright (8-8) fell at Polar League nemesis Barnum 73-50 Monday. The Cards were carried by MaKayleigh Cahoon's team-best 18 points, while Christina Stenson and Kayle Johnson each had eight in their club's fourth loss in five games.

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Fond du Lac Ojibwe (3-14) is on a hot streak, racking up Ogichidaa victories over Nah-Ah-Shing last Thursday and Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School 59-25 Tuesday night on the road. Following a 40-point loss Friday at Minneapolis Patrick Henry last Friday, FDL flew past Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig behind Sara Fineday's game-best 28 points, along with Alissa Bosto's 21.

Moose Lake-Willow River (13-5) continued its winter-long success Tuesday when they walloped host Duluth Marshall 59-33. The upstart Rebels were carried by Olivia Bennett's game-leading 22 points, while Haley Johnson, Shaelyn Halverson and Taylor Miller all collected nine each in the win.

Wrenshall (0-15) continued its winless season on the hardwood when they suffered a 59-24 loss against Polar League rival Carlton Tuesday in Wrenshall. The Wrens' Maria Burcar was held to just seven points, while Kaitlyn Kelley added six and Brittany O'Brien four.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (0-13) kept its goose egg this season, having now lost all 13 games thus far. The Thunder lost to Minnesota College Athletic Conference foe Itasca 84-30 Monday at home; Ashley O'Day led FDLTCC with 12 points. The Thunder was back in action Wednesday night in Hibbing as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. They'll next host MCAC foes Northland Saturday at 1 p.m., along with Rainy River Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.

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