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Escanaba pulls off rare girls basketball win over Marquette Redettes, 55-46

Marquette’s Sofia van den Ende, left, prepares to shoot while being guarded by Escanaba’s Marissa Wallin during their Great Northern Conference girls basketball game played Tuesday in Escanaba. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

ESCANABA — It only took the Escanaba girls basketball team one game to accomplish something it hadn’t done in nearly eight years — beat Great Northern Conference rival Marquette.

Senior Taylor Ray and junior Nicole Kamin led the way, but it took a complete team effort as the Eskymos pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Redettes 55-46 for the first time since Jan. 18, 2012, in the season opener for both teams here Tuesday.

“We were so excited,” Ray said. “Going in we were so nervous, but we had some confidence in ourselves and we were just going to play and do our thing.”

That’s exactly what they did.

The Eskymos came out firing on all cylinders offensively, racing to a 20-15 lead after one quarter. The Redettes were able to hold Esky to five points in the second quarter to take a 28-25 lead into halftime, but these weren’t the same Eskymos they’ve played against in the past.

Kamin and Ray opened the second half with back-to-back treys to put the Eskymos back on top, and it stayed that way until an old-fashioned 3-point play by Maddie Carter gave the Redettes their last lead at 36-35 with 35 ticks left in the third.

Maysie Lancour’s driving layup put the Eskymos back in front on their next possession, and then Marquette made a critical mistake by fouling Ray on a 3-point attempt from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer. Ray made the Redettes pay, sinking all three free throws to give Esky a 40-36 cushion heading to the fourth.

“I told (the girls), ‘It’s basketball. The game doesn’t change, you’ve been playing it since sixth grade. Just play the game, outhustle, outwork and things will happen,'” Esky coach Mike Beveridge said.

Esky began the fourth quarter on a 10-4 run, capped by a 3-point play in transition by sophomore guard Bailey Barron, who was playing her first varsity game. The Redettes cut their deficit to 50-44 on a layup by Carter with 1:27 left, but Kamin and Ray iced the game at the free throw line.

“(Marquette is) the king of the conference right now and we just knocked them down a peg,” Beveridge said. “It’s a tough conference, but it’s one game and you get a chance to beat somebody like that and that’s a big win. I told the girls it’s probably the biggest upset in the (Upper Peninsula) this week, so be proud of it, enjoy it, learn from your mistakes and move on to Game 2.”

Kamin, a Grand Valley State commit who often leads by example, noted the Eskymos wanted this win a little bit extra after two tough losses (64-36 and 57-42) to the Redettes a year ago.

“It feels good,” Kamin said. “Last year we got beat by them so bad, so coming into this we really wanted that win. We work better together this year, I feel. We have more chemistry.”

Ray led the way 17 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Kamin finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and an assist.

Carter had a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the Redettes. Aspen Michelin tripled three times in the first quarter to finish with nine points and four rebounds, while Maria Millado had seven points and eight boards. Reegan Ketzenberger finished with six assists.

“We’re an inexperienced bunch, and obviously we have some things we need to figure out,” veteran Redettes’ coach Ben Smith said. “Whether you win or lose the first game, you have plenty of things to figure out. I thought defensively we were OK, we just needed to get rebounds. That’s one of those things where we need to make plays and get stuff done. That turns everything in a positive way offensively because we can get out and run and push the tempo and beat their zone down the floor, instead of getting a partial stop and standing there and watching them get a rebound, make a play, and then we have to inbound.

“We have plenty of work to do, no matter what the outcome (was) tonight. Obviously you like to win games, but you also like to leave the gym believing you deserved to win the game, and I thought their effort was way better than ours for a good portion of the night.”

Marquette won the JV contest 58-37.

Marquette heads to the Petoskey Tournament to take on Brighton Friday and then either Grandville or Petoskey on Saturday.