Prep boys basketball: Esko falls on ‘crazy’ Pequot Lakes buzzerbeater
Eli Laposky hit an off-balance shot as time expired to win the game for the Patriots.
ESKO — With just seconds remaining Monday, Esko’s Koi Perich hit two free throws to tie the score with Pequot Lakes and send the game to overtime.
Unfortunately for the Eskomos, Eli Laposky had other ideas.
The Patriots called a timeout with 1.8 seconds to draw up a play. Laposky took an off-balance shot around his defender, but despite the difficulty, the shot hit nothing but net as time expired, giving Pequot Lakes a 66-63 win.
“When we drew up the play, it was going to the other side,” Laposky said. “I knew he was face-guarding, so I took a step back and basically he fell for it. So I went around, I saw the ball rolling and I picked it up. I knew there was 1.8 on the clock, I knew it had to shoot, then it went in and the rest is history.”
During the timeout, Esko talked about trying to keep everything in front of them and forcing the Patriots to catch the ball going toward the Eskomos’ basket.
“We came out and decided that we wanted to try to face-guard and gave them a clear path going with momentum toward their hoop,” Esko coach Derek Anderson said. “We had a couple guys that I think could have — if they were looking for the basketball — could have stole the ball, but they were too busy focused on their guy. So that’s not very good team defense and then, obviously, it was a crazy shot to go in at the end.”
Esko led most of the game and held a 61-60 lead with about a minute to play. Instead of working the clock down, the Patriots were able to get a hand on one of Esko’s passes and Conner Quale hit a shot at the basket, just his second make of the night, to put his team up a point.
As time wound down, Laposky missed two of three free throws to give Perich an opportunity to knot the game.
“We started to just stand around on offense again and we didn’t really look to attack, it was more passing it back and forth without and purpose to it,” Anderson said. “Then defensively, we got out of position gambling for no reason a couple of times and they got some easy buckets off of it.”
Pequot Lakes coach Rich Spiczka said it didn’t matter if Laposky’s shot went in, the Patriots had played well with potentially a more-talented Esko team.
“Even with about 3 minutes left, I was proud of our kids’ effort because we competed,” Spiczka said. “We’ve got to do it a different way than they do it. It’s got to be a little more strategic, a little more controlled. Our kids played with guts — we had chances to put the thing away. I think with under a minute to go, we missed a layup. We missed a bunch of free throws, we had our chances, but we didn’t quit competing and I’m proud of our kids for that.”
The last time the teams met was in the Section 7AA championship game last season and it could happen again in a little over a month — something Laposky is looking forward to.
“It’s a lot of fun playing these guys,” Laposky said. “They’re a really good team and to see this type of competition, it just makes the game a lot more fun.”
Pequot Lakes (11-5) will play at Park Rapids at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
Esko (14-3) will host St. Paul Johnson at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Pequot Lakes 32-34—66
Pequot Lakes — Eli Laposky 13, Gavin Kennen 20, Grant Loge 20, Conner Quale 4, Brayden Spiczka 9. Totals 27 7-10 66.
3-point goals — Laposky 3, Kennen, Loge 2, Spiczka 3.
Esko — Carter Zezulka 5, Koi Perich 17, Sam Haugen 2, Dalton Spindler 18, Cuinn Berger 15, Braedyn Male 6. Totals 27 4-11 63.
3-point goals — Spindler 4, Berger 5.