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Gwinn Modeltowners’ girls basketball team runs into buzzsaw in Escanaba, falls 75-53

Gwinn’s Marissa Delmont, right, drives past Escanaba’s Maddy Monkevich during their nonconference high school girls basketball game played in Escanaba on Thursday. Looking on from the Modeltowners is Megan Ruokolainen. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

ESCANABA — Coming into the season, everyone knew what junior forward Nicole Kamin and senior guard Taylor Ray would bring to the table for the Escanaba girls basketball team.

As the season has progressed, the rest of the team has really started to gel, and the Eskymos look like a team who can play with anyone in the Upper Peninsula.

The latest example of that was on display Thursday night, as the Eskymos took down previously undefeated Gwinn 75-52 on their home court in a nonconference matchup.

Esky (6-3) left no doubt from start to finish, jumping out to an 18-4 lead after a layup by Ray with 2:19 left in the first quarter.

“My starting five is really starting to play well together,” Esky coach Mike Beveridge said. “If Nicole is a little bit off, someone else is going to pick it up…. They don’t even think about it, I just think they’re playing well as a unit.

“Mari (Bink) had eight or nine (points) tonight, but she does other things well. Defensively, she was stopping them inside.

“(Maddy) Monkevich is ferocious on the boards, getting rebounds and doing things there, so it isn’t just about points. Those girls are playing well together and they’re really starting to click.”

The Eskymos led 23-10 at the end of the first quarter and didn’t let up in the second, using a fast pace and tempo to take a 43-19 lead into halftime.

“I felt we had it up and down the floor,” Beveridge said. “Our tempo was get it and go, and I thought our girls played so unselfishly.”

Three-point shooting was the only thing that was working for the Modeltowners (5-1) as they buried six triples in each half. The problem was the only thing they hit in the first half was from outside, with the exception of one free throw by Tianna Taylor. Their first 2-point basket didn’t come until the opening possession of the second half on a layup by Marissa Delmont.

“We’ve been really, really efficient,” Gwinn coach Ben Olsen said. “I feel like we were efficient offensively. Maybe they were more efficient … it’s hard to tell without going back and looking on film as far as what happened defensively, but we pride ourselves on running the break.

“They did a phenomenal job of running the break, so maybe we got a little dose of our own medicine. They’re a team that’s just as athletic as us, if not more.”

Esky continued to roll in the second half, starting the third quarter on a 19-6 run to take a 62-25 lead on a 3-point play by Kamin with 1:26 remaining in the frame.

Gwinn fought back with a strong 21-point fourth quarter, but it was far too little, too late.

Kamin and Ray led Esky with 19 points each. Bailey Barron hit a career-high with 15 points and five rebounds.

Delmont led all scorers with 20 points for Gwinn, including six triples. Emily Curtice chipped in 14 points and four treys, while Taylor added 10 points and six rebounds.

Esky outrebounded Gwinn 32-23 and shot 28 for 57 from the field, good enough for 49%. Gwinn was 18 for 47 from the field.

“If (Esky) shoots that way every night, I think they’re going to be a tough out for anybody, anywhere, anytime,” Olsen said. “I think we ran into a buzzsaw a little bit tonight, so give credit to them.

“The good thing for us is we don’t have to worry about them anymore. They’re not in our district, not in our tournament, not our size (school), not in our conference, so this was a good nonconference game for us. We played a quality opponent.

“I do wish we could have shown a little bit better because I do believe we’re one of the top teams in the U.P., we just ran into a buzzsaw tonight.”

Esky also won the JV game 46-13.

On Tuesday, the Eskymos visit Marquette while Gwinn hosts Ishpeming.

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