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Prep girls basketball: Esko coach Scott Antonutti resigns after 14 seasons

Antonutti led the Eskomos to three state tournament trips and accumulated over 300 wins during his tenure.

Team talk
Esko girls basketball coach Scott Antonutti talks to team members during preseason scrimmages in Esko.
File / Pine Journal
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ESKO — After 14 highly-successful seasons leading the Eskomos’ girls basketball program, 1990 Esko graduate Scott Antonutti has officially stepped down from the position of head coach, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

According to Antonutti, the decision to resign after 14 seasons has been in the works since the initial interview back in 2008.

“My daughter (Rachel Antonutti) was exceptionally young at the time, and I calculated that it would be 14 seasons before she graduated. We had a son and another child on the way, and I remember saying even in the interview that I’d like to think that I could make it for 14 seasons,” Antonutti said.

Antonutti will continue to teach social studies at Esko High School in addition to serving as assistant coach for the football team where his son, sophomore Joey Antonutti, plays quarterback.

Now that his winter schedule will be less hectic, Antonutti said he’s eager to get to as many of his son’s Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey games as he can.

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”I missed a bunch of his hockey games this year, and I don’t want to miss those games next year or his senior year,” Antonutti said.

Antonutti returned to Esko in 2008 after spending the previous five years teaching and serving as an assistant girls basketball coach at Fosston High School.

In his 14 seasons leading the Eskomos, Antonutti racked up over 300 wins, and guided the program to the Class AA state tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

The team’s third-place finish in 2014 was one of Antonutti’s fondest memories during his run as head coach, along with an unforgettable showdown against Barnum during the 2010-2011 season.

“I think they were ranked No. 1 for Single A (and were the) defending state champs. We were, I think, in the top three or four for AA, and I think we were both undefeated … It’s the most people I’ve ever seen in our gym. It was super exciting,” Antonutti recalled of the Jan. 27, 2011 meeting. “That night, the AD had to roll in additional bleachers along the baseline and we happened to win. It was my first win against Barnum.”

In total, Esko finished with 20-win seasons in 11 of Antonutti's 14 years at the helm. Reflecting on the experience, he credits the student athletes for their hard work in making it possible.

“I had a wonderful experience. I got the cream of the crop for girls—great students, great athletes and great role models—so it was a pleasure,” Antonutti said. “It’s kind of bittersweet to see it end, but I enjoyed my time and I enjoyed the girls.”

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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