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Fast start, strong finish helps Perham close out Esko

Perham's Martin LaFond drives to the basket and gets the layup as Esko's Quinn Fischer defends during the first half of Perham's victory over Esko. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The seventh-ranked Perham Yellowjackets raced out to a big lead and held off the surging 10th-ranked Esko Eskomos 66-58 for their 15th straight win on Jan. 20 at the Lincoln High School gymnasium in Esko.

The Yellowjackets started right out of the gates, scoring 19 of the first 23 points. However, as good teams always do, the Eskomos made a late run. The Eskomos cut the lead to four late in the second half, but Martin LaFond drilled a dagger 3-pointer, helping Perham close it out. “I thought we came together as a team and executed really well,” Perham’s Logan Richter said. “There were a few points in the game where we all got kind of nervous, but we came back and regrouped. The game went well, we won by a few points, which is good to see.”

Jenson Beachy works inside against Esko.

Martin LaFond led the way for Perham, finishing with 23 points. Josh Jeziorski ended with 14 points and hauled in a team-high 14 rebounds. Jenson Beachy added 11 points and dished out six assists.

One of the marquee battles within the game came inside the paint between Esko’s Adam Trapp and Perham’s Logan Richter and Finn Diggins. Trapp is a 7’3” center, who is used to controlling the paint. Richter battled with him throughout the game, making it tough for the Eskomos to enter the ball into the paint. When Richter was off the floor, Diggins was tasked with battling with the tall center.

Logan Richter launches a 3-pointer.

“It’s really different. I’m used to being the biggest guy on the floor. Playing a guy like (Adam) Trapp betters myself and my teammates,” Richter said. “It’s good to get a better view of a bigger guy once in awhile. He played a good game and my hat is off to them, they played a good game.”

Perham head coach Dave Cresap was excastic with the play of the team’s bench and their energy. The Yellowjackets received quality minutes from Diggins, John LaFond and Carter Cresap in the game. The Yellowjackets were forced to used different lineups due to Jenson. Beachy and LaFond being in foul trouble. Cresap said Ben Winkels had a nice game as well at the point for Perham.

“It was a very, very well-played game for our kids Our heart and soul was in the game for the whole game,” Cresap said. “Our bench really, really played well, not only the guys who came in off the bench, but our bench was energetic and cheering for each other. That’s really what I like to see. Wins or losses are great, but what I like to see is when we have team chemistry, getting along, everyone cheering for each other and not worrying about who is scoring. That was really evident today and I’m really happy.”

Richter’s play inside, along with his ability to stretch the floor gave Esko fits. He consistently found a cutter to the hoop, finishing with seven assists, leading the way in that category. Beachy added six assists as well.

“Richter is starting to turn the corner. He is starting to get after it,” Cresap said. “It’s his senior year and he knows it’s coming to an end. I was proud of him today with his effort.”

The Yellowjackets led 33-21 at the break. At multiple times in the second half, they led by 14, but Esko rallied. The Eskomos cut into the lead with an 8-0 run, cutting it to 54-50. LaFond answered with a 3-pointer, which sparked a 9-0 run, sealing the game for Perham.

“When you are playing a team that’s that good, well-coached, they are going to come at us,” Cresap said. “Every time we had an answer. Martin’s was a big one. He stopped behind a screen, they went under it, and knocked down a three. We were up four and it turned to seven and the game was over.”

Perham's Carter Cresap drives the baseline.

Quinn Fischer finished with 19 points, while Trapp added 17. Camden Berger finished with 16 points for the Eskomos.

The win improved the Yellowjackets to 15-0, while the Eskomos fell to 10-4. The Yellowjackets return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 23 when they take on Barnesville in Barnesville at 7:30 p.m.

PER 33 33--66

ESKO 21 37--56

PER-Jenson Beachy 11, Martin LaFond 23, Josh Jeziorski 14, Ben Winkels 2, Finn Diggins 7, Logan Richter 9

3-pointers: Beachy, LaFond 4, Diggins, Richter. Free Throws: 9-15. Team Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: None

ESKO-Quinn Fischer 19, Ryan Pantsar 6, Camden Berger 16, Adam Trapp 17

3-pointers: Fischer, Pantsar 2, Berger 2. Free Throws: 9-10. Team Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: None

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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