Marquette Redmen boys basketball team closes strong for 58-49 win at Escanaba
ESCANABA — The chance was there for the taking. The Escanaba boys’ basketball team had second-ranked Marquette right where it wanted them here Monday night.
But then the Redmen found a way to do what they do best — win.
The Redmen closed the game on an 11-2 run to upend the Eskymos 58-49 in a Great Northern Conference game.
Junior guard Peyton Fedell tied the game for Esky 47-47 with 5:08 remaining on a layup off a nice pass from Jared Nash.
But the Redmen answered with a big 3-pointer from Luke Ogea and a driving layup by 6-foot-10 center Marius Grazulis to take a 52-47 lead with 3:42 to go.
“That was a big 3 that Ogea hit,” Esky coach Tracy Hudson said. “We held him in check for most of the game but we lost of track of him one time and he made a big shot.”
Nash answered with a layup with 3:01 left to pull Esky within three. Out of a timeout with just under two minutes remaining, the Eskymos (10-7, 4-3 GNC) went down low to Nash on a backdoor cut on a beautifully designed play, but Nash missed the layup. That might have been his only mistake, as he finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“If he makes that shot it’s a one-point game inside of two minutes,” Hudson said. “He’s been a man amongst boys, and really strong around the basket. He’s been a great leader and he’s playing his best basketball right now. He’s been our go-to guy about every game now. We designed the play for him there.”
After a pair of Grazulis free throws, Drew Wyble drove in from the left side for a layup with 1:09 remaining to make it 56-49. Esky failed to score on its next possession and Bryce Brazeau hit another pair of free throws for Marquette with 39 ticks left to ice the game.
“We knew we had our hands full,” Hudson said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. We were there for awhile, but we need more balance to beat really good teams. I felt we had to make them pay for their aggressive defense with 3-pointers. We only hit three, and we could have used six or seven.”
The win gave the Redmen (16-3 8-0 GNC) an undefeated season in the conference and a boost of momentum heading into districts. They began the game on an 8-2 run and led 30-27 at halftime.
“We made plays when we had to,” Redmen coach Brad Nelson said. “Basketball is a game of runs and how you respond to those runs dictates if you win the game.
“They’re a very physical team. Our ‘help’ defense had to be good, and we had to know where the help was coming from. We helped off of Fedell a couple times and he made us pay, and we knew we couldn’t help off of (Carter) Hudson.”
Brazeau led the Redmen with 15 points. Ethan Martyz and Grazulis, a Grand Valley State commit, each chipped in with 12. Nelson was pleased to get a win in the Redmen’s regular-season finale.
“We’re very happy to come out of here with a win,” he said. “We wanted to go undefeated in the conference. It helps immensely to play a team like Escanaba heading into districts. We’re going to take a day off (today), then come back in Wednesday and start preparing for districts.”
Hudson was happy with the effort of his team, which battled back from Marquette runs on numerous occasions. He was still disappointed with the result, though.
“I’m disappointed, but proud,” he said. “The guys gave tremendous effort and made a ton of adjustments throughout the game that we didn’t even know we could do. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“We threw everything but the kitchen sink at them. They put a lot of pressure on you and have lots of guys who can beat you. They take you out of a lot of different things. Marquette showed a lot of poise.”
Fedell chipped in with 12 points and Craig Kamin had six assists for Esky.
The Eskymos, who won the JV game 82-79 in double overtime and lost the freshman game 55-47, host Gwinn tonight. Marquette hosts Traverse City Central in its district opener Monday.