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Esko rallies but Annandale seals the victory in overtime

By Trevor Squire, SportsEngine, 12/09/17, 10:45AM CST


The Cardinals outscored the Eskomos 14-1 in the bonus period.

Annandale forward Nick Bieniek pulls up for a jump shot against Esko during the Breakdown Tip Off Classic on Saturday evening. Bieniek contributed 22 points in the Cardinals' 68-55 victory over the Eskomos. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

Annandale and Esko’s rise to Class 2A dominance has been synonymous. The Cardinals, coming off their fifth straight state tournament appearance after last year’s third-place finish, has faced Esko three times in the state tournament since 2013, including 2014’s Class 2A state championship, which the Eskomos claimed over Annandale.

Despite winning the other two matchups, Esko has been a bane to Cardinals coach Skip Dolan who won’t settle for consolation prizes.

But he’ll take Saturday’s 68-55 overtime victory over the Eskomos any day, as his all-senior starting lineup was forced into a high-pressure scenario which they overcame, outscoring Esko 14-1 in overtime.

“Both teams get after each other,” Dolan said. “I was disappointed at one point late in regulation. We weren’t getting what we call ‘championship rebounds’ and from that point on I think we got every rebound.”

A.J. Hinz led Annandale, ranked fourth in the Class 2A Minnesota Basketball News poll, with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow senior forward Nick Bieniek tallied 22 points and eight rebounds. The duo dominated the defensive backboard in bonus time with Hinz grabbing four and Bieniek snagging three.

The Cardinals’ starting five all stand at least 6-foot-1, which allowed Hinz the freedom to focus on covering No. 7-2A Esko’s towering 7-foot-3 forward, Adam Trapp. Hinz, who has matched up with Trapp since his sophomore year when he was just an inch over six feet, lauded his teammates for handling the rebounding responsibilities early.

“It’s big,” Hinz said of his team’s rebounding prowess. “(It) takes load of your shoulders, especially against Trapp (who was held to 12 points), I wasn’t even worried about getting the rebound, I was just trying to make sure he didn’t get (a basket).”

After playing four games in the opening two weeks of the season, Esko (4-1) had already found its form and took an early 22-13 lead. Hinz sparked a Cardinals (2-0) comeback, knocking down a trio of three pointers and a total 11 points in the final four minutes of the first half. Bieniek converted a three of his own, and threw down a one-handed jam to energize Annandale to a 16-7 run to close the half.

The Cardinals channeled that energy and opened the second half with an 11-3 run where Bienek scored eight points. Annandale allowed Esko back into the game in the final 10 minutes, but Hinz and Bienek’s grit on the glass halted any hopes of an Eskomonos upset in the extra session.

“We really went and got the ball like we should have,” Dolan said. “We’re very pleased with this victory.”

Annandale senior AJ Hinz looks for a passing lane against Esko during the Breakdown Tip Off Classic in Hopkins. Hinz finished with 24 points as the Cardinals defeated the Eskomos 68-55. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

First Report

Senior forward A.J. Hinz posted a 24-point,10-rebound double-double, and scored six points in overtime to push Annandale to a 68-55 victory over Esko, which suffered its first loss of the season, on Saturday at the Breakdown Tip Off Classic in Hopkins.

Ranked fourth in the Class 2A Minnesota Basketball News poll, the Cardinals (2-0) overcame an eight-point deficit early in the game and dominated in overtime, outscoring No. 7-2A Esko 14-1 in bonus time.

Senior forward Nick Bieniek scored 22 points for Annandale and grabbed eight rebounds. Senior guard Trenton Peterson chipped in with eight points.

Junior Camden Berger posted a team-high 18 points for the Eskomos (4-1). Guard Quinn Fischer added 13 points and fellow senior Adam Trapp, who plays center, scored 12.

Esko junior Camden Berger pushes to the basket against Annandale in the Breakdown Tip Off Classic Saturday evening. The Eskomos fell to the Cardinals 68-55. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

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