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Mooseheart Outlasts East Dubuque, Wins South Beloit Martin Luther King Tournament Title

By DARRYL MELLEMA, Associate Editor, Moose Magazine
Click Photo to Enlarge

Mooseheart's boys basketball team poses with the championship trophy after defeating East Dubuque to claim the South Beloit Martin Luther King Tournament title.

Mooseheart senior Wale Sanni moves in for a layup for 2 of his 15 points in the Ramblers 48-45 victory over East Dubuque in the South Beloit Martin Luther King Tournament.

Mooseheart's Akim Nyang moves inside East Dubuque's Jonah Puls for a layup. Nyang scored 10 points for the Ramblers.

Kevin Gbadebo runs into East Dubuque's Jonah Puls as he puts up a short shot in the Ramblers 48-45 victory over the Warriors. Gbadebo was called for an offensive foul on the play.

MOOSEHEART, Jan. 22 – Just three days after saying his team wasn't very good at handling adversity, Mooseheart boys basketball coach Ron Ahrens saw his squad face a series of major challenges – and succeed.

The Ramblers, forced to play without Makur Puou in Monday's championship game of the South Beloit Martin Luther King Tournament, withstood a series of surges from East Dubuque, yet prevailed 48-45.

"Hopefully we keep getter by handling that adversity," Ahrens said. "That was a psychological blow to the guys."

The win completed a 4-0 weekend for Mooseheart (13-5) in the tournament. And marks the first trophy the team has gotten in Ahrens' five years of coaching the program.

"We did a good job throughout the tournament and it showed throughout the whole tournament," Mooseheart senior Wale Sanni said. "It's a nice feeling to get the trophy and to know what we can be when we actually work as a team. That's a nice feeling."

Puou was suspended for the contest after receiving two technical fouls in Mooseheart's final pool play contest, a Saturday victory over South Beloit. While Ahrens said he did not agree with the ruling that Puou had to sit, the junior sat in street clothes in the bleachers while his teammates competed.

"We didn't make a big fuss about that adversity," Sanni said. "We just took it on and did what we could with it."

Needing sparks to get themselves going, Mooseheart got three. The first was Wale Sanni, who scored 15 points.

"(Sanni's) got some nice offensive moves and skills down low," Ahrens said. "That's why I have him in there, because we needed another scorer. He saw a lot of minutes and I thought he played extremely well."

Akim Nyang added 10 points and actively rebounded on both ends of the floor.

"We needed him to step up," Ahrens said. "He rebounded the ball really well and he was a presence I the middle. He blocked a bunch of shots. Toward the end, they didn't even try to go into the middle. "

The third spark was Mangisto Deng, who scored 13 points, including 4-for-4 free throwing in the fourth quarter.

With Puou missing, Mooseheart's bench shrunk to just three players. Deng sat in the second quarter with foul trouble and the bench was further stretched,

"(Deng) got two fouls and you have to be safe," Ahrens said. "We actually extended the lead until I tried to pull the ball out and take the air out of it with about 55 seconds left.

Trailing 32-27 late in the third quarter, Mooseheart surged to take the lead for good. Sanni scored, Nyang hit a lay-up, Hameed Odunewu hit two free throws and Deng hit the Ramblers' only three-point basket of the game and the lead eventually stood 36-34 in Mooseheart's favor entering the fourth quarter.

"We worked the ball a little bit," Ahrens said. "It was all in our offense, which was nice."

Adam Lange hit 3 three-pointers and scored 15 points to lead East Dubuque in scoring. Tyler Kraft added 11 points for the Warriors.

Mooseheart 48, East Dubuque 45

East Dubuque: Adam Lange 5 2-2 15, Schulting 1 1-2 4, Puls 0 0-0 0, Place 1 1-1 3, Monahan 0 0-0 0, Alex Lange 1 0-0 3, Hilby 3 0-0 7, Schneider 0 0-1 0, Kraft 5 1-2 1. Totals 17 5-8 45.

Mooseheart: Okito 1 0-0 2, Odunewu 2 2-2 6, Hart 0 0-0 0, Kurowski 0 2-2 2, Deng 4 4-4 134, Gbadebo 0 0-0 0, Sanni 7 1-2 15, Nyang 5 0-0 10. Totals 19 9-10 48.

East Dubuque    10      10      14      11      -       45

Mooseheart      8       14      14      12      -       48

3-point goals: Adam Lang 3, Schulting 1, Alex Lange 1, Hilby 1, Deng 1. Fouled out: None. Technical: Mooseheart bench.



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