NEGAUNEE - Escanaba High School boys varsity basketball coach Tracy Hudson mixed up his defenses Thursday night in hopes of slowing down Negaunee's high-powered offense.
The host Miners made sure it didn't work.
Outscoring the Eskymos 21-8 in the second quarter and placing four players in double figures scoring-wise, Negaunee posted a 69-53 non-conference win over EHS at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium.
Eric Lori led the Miners' balanced scoring attack with 21 points with 14 coming in the first half when his team forged a 36-22 lead at intermission.
"I worked for my shots, but everyone was involved in the offense," Lori said. "(Point guard) Tyler Jandron did a good job distributing the ball."
Jandron added 19 points to go along with six assists and six steals. Teammates Tanner Uren (11) and Brock Weaver (10) combined for 21 more points as the Miners improved to 6-1 on the season.
"We worked over Christmas break on moving the ball and getting better shots," Miners head coach Mike O'Donnell said. "It makes the defense adjust to you."
The Eskymos (3-5) used primarily a 1-3-1 zone defense in the first quarter and it paid off. EHS forced the Miners into some ill-advised outside shots and trailed just 15-14 heading into the second stanza.
"We did a pretty good job early matching up with (Negaunee) with a zone and man-to-man," Hudson said. "We wanted to take (the Miners) out of their (offensive) rhythm.
"It was important for us to get out to a good start."
It didn't last long, however. Using a 9-0 run with the help of a Lori three-point play, the Miners outscored the Eskymos by 13 points in the second quarter to lead by 14 at the half.
"(Escanaba's) zone hurt us early, but in the second quarter, we cranked up our defensive pressure and got some transition buckets on offense," O'Donnell said. "The game was won there as we got some separation."
Said Hudson: "They turned us over and got some points. If you make a mistake, they make you pay for it.
"Jandron broke us down with his penetration." he added. "We didn't do a good job with that."
Lori notched nine points in the second quarter surge and Jandron added seven as the Miners started to move the ball around with authority.
"We didn't think (Escanaba would) run a zone and it surprised us a little," Lori said. "But as the game went on, we moved the ball better."
The Eskymos - who got 21 points and 12 rebounds from Dan LaPalm, and 12 points each from Brandon Robinette and Sam Molnar - scored six unanswered points in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 43-32.
But the Miners came back with five straight points of their own to stop Escanaba's momentum and put the game away.
"I've been preaching a team concept and it was a positive step offensively for us," O'Donnell said. "We spent some time in the break fine-tuning our offense and we distributed the ball better tonight."
In the junior varsity game, Negaunee posted a 56-36 triumph to go 7-0 on the season.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.