The Superior High School boys basketball had a tall task at hand when they hosted the Esko Eskomos Tuesday night in the SHS gym.
The biggest obstacle the Spartans faced was 7-foot-3 Adam Trapp, Trapp, along with 6-0 guard Camden Berger, scored 23 points apiece to lead Esko to a 79-65 win.
Quinn Fischer was also in double figures for Esko with 16 points.
“We’re not where we want to be at 0-2, but we have 20 games to go and we faced a quality opponent tonight in Esko,” SHS coach Jake Smith said. “Give them a lot of credit, that’s a state-tournament caliber team.
“Esko is a tough match up for us with Trapp on the inside and four other guys that can all shoot the ball from the perimeter.”
The Spartans had four players in double figures, led by Mason Ackley’s 19 points. Beau Severson was next with 12 points (on four 3-pointers), and Xavier Patterson and Corey Sanders both had 10 points.
“We had some guys do a lot of nice things,” Smith said. “Mason made some nice plays for us, he was aggressive going to the basket and got to the foul line a little bit, and Severson and Sanders off the bench were awesome.
“Beau gave us that shot in the arm that we needed and Corey had some really nice takes to the basket, he was strong, he was aggressive.”
The Spartans fell behind by 12 points early, including 22-10 on a Ryan Pantsar basket with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Ackley scored eight of his points during a 15-6 run that got the Spartans within 28-25.
Esko answered and ended the half with a 15-0 run that made the score 43-25 at the intermission.
“It seemed like every time we went on a run and did something, then Esko would turn around and go on an 8-0, 10-0 and 15-0 run,” Smith said. “Every time we tried to do something they had an answer.”
Five points by Ackley and a three-point play by Sanders got the Spartans within 58-49 with 9:42 remaining.
“We wanted to be bit more aggressive in the second half,” Smith said. “We tried to push the pace a little bit more and beat the big fellow down the court. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half, but it wasn’t enough against a very good team.”
The Spartans’ deficit hit 11 points three more times down the stretch and eventually reached 18 points (77-59) on a 6-0 Esko run.
Spartan senior Stephen Gee completed the scoring with a 3-pointer with one minute remaining.
“I think we did some nice things, but we’re still trying to see how we’re going to come together as a team with different rotations, who can play with who, and stuff like that.
“It’s early on (in the season), but I think we’re going to be Ok.”
The Spartans host Duluth Denfeld at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
SPARTAN SPIN: Esko also won the JV game 55-43. Jarrett Gronski led the Spartans with 14 points. Draden Jensen was next with eight points and Joey Barker added seven.
Esko............................. 43 36 — 79
Superior........................ 25 40 — 65
Esko — Quinn Fischer 16, Ryan Pantsar 6, Jon Stodola 2, Payton Wefel 8, Eric Rish 1, Camden Berger 23, Adam Trapp 23.
3-point goals — Wefel 2, Berger.
Superior — Mason Ackley 19, Xavier Patterson 10, Kaleb Zentkowski 7, Ben Rhodes 2, Stephen Gee 3, Cam Borgh 2, Corey Sanders 10, Beau Severson 12.
3-point goals — Severson 4, Ackley, Patterson, Zentkowski, Gee.