MARQUETTE - Mark Pap stayed out of foul trouble Tuesday night and that brought problems for the Escanaba High School boys basketball team.
Hampered by fouls in both of his first two games this season, the 6-foot-6 senior forward stayed on the court and led host Marquette Senior High School to a 66-45 Great Northern Conference victory.
Pap scored nine points in the first half and nine in the third quarter before being lifted by Marquette coach Brad Nelson for the final quarter with MSHS ahead 58-25.
Marquette’s Mark Pap goes for a layup as Escanaba’s Brandon Robinette tries to block him during first quarter at Marquette Senior High School on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"It feels good to play an entire half," Pap said. "I really had to focus on being smart. The guy I was guarding (Brandon Robinette) is good at attacking the rim.
"I had to make sure I stayed straight up and didn't jump."
MSHS head coach Brad Nelson, whose team is now 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the GNC, said getting Pap back on track was a pregame strategy.
"We wanted to make sure he got going. He has been frustrated the last couple of games with the foul trouble," the coach said. "I wanted to get him some touches and get into rhythm.
"Sitting on the bench, it's hard to build confidence your senior year. He's a huge part of this team and we wanted to get him into the flow."
Brad Brow tallied 12 points to complement Pap, while teammate A.J. Grazulis added 10 to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
Sam Molnar and Demetrian Macon tossed in 10 points apiece for the Eskymos (1-4, 1-2).
The Redmen used a man press in the first half and caused several Escanaba turnovers that resulted in some transition points.
"Their press hurt us," Esky head coach Tracy Hudson admitted. "Being tall and long, they got some easy baskets off the press.
"Marquette has one of the best teams they've had for a while and will be a force the rest of the way."
The Redmen also used a 24-0 run in the second quarter - behind seven points by Pap, six by Brow and six by Grazulis - to blow the game open and lead 40-10 just before the half.
"Everyone got aggressive with the ball and knocked down some shots," Pap said. "Brow hit a couple of 3s (among four he nailed in the first half) and we were patient to see the gaps in (Escanaba's) defense."
Said Hudson: "It was a combination of them getting turnovers and us missing some shots. They got on a roll there and took the game from us. They totally dominated us."
With the MSHS run, the Redmen led Esky 42-12 at the half.
"To hold them to 12 points in the half, that was a huge statement," Nelson said. "We take pride in our defense."
MSHS claimed a 58-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter and led 62-30 early in the final stanza before Nelson began emptying his bench.
The Eskymos then outscored the Redmen 15-4 the rest of the way, with Molnar and Macon notching five points apiece to make the final score more respectable.
"I'm proud of my kids and the way they battled in the second half," Hudson said. "We just have to learn to play tougher and smarter."
Escanaba won the junior varsity game, 59-56, in overtime.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.