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Mooseheart's Mangisto Deng dribbles toward the basket in the Ramblers 45-30 regional semifinal win over Westminster Christian. Deng scored 13 points in the contest.
Mooseheart's Makur Puou prepares to take a shot in Mooseheart's regional semifinal victory over Westminster Christian. Puou scored 12 points in the game.
ELGIN, IL, Feb. 20 – Westminster Christian pushed Mooseheart in Wednesday's IHSA Class 1A Regional semifinal on the Warriors' homecourt. They shot well from the outside and used delay tactics effectively and were within 30-25 early in the fourth quarter.
In the end, it wasn't enough to prevent the Ramblers from defeating the Warriors for the third time this season – this time by a 45-30 score. The win moves Mooseheart into Friday's regional title game against top-seeded Hinckley-Big Rock. The 7:30 p.m. game will take place at Judson University.
"I was not disappointed defensively at all," Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said. "At halftime, I thought we were a little sluggish offensively."
Ahrens said the fact the Ramblers (23-5) were in their third contest of the season with the Warriors created a series of challenges to overcome.
"One, they have a good coach and two, they have a good basketball IQ on their team," Ahrens said. "Then you know what can happen? They can put something in within a day or two and their kids comprehend it and run it."
Mooseheart got scoring in spurts from different players. Akim Nyang scored six of his eight points I the first quarter.
"He had a couple of quick buckets for us right away," Ahrens said. "That took a lot of pressure off us. We need another scorer like that."
Makur Puor had a six-outburst in the second quarter to account for half of his 12 points. Hameed Odunewu and Mangisto Deng scored four points apiece in the third quarter.
But Deng came fully alive offensively in the first quarter. First he hit a three-pointer from the left wing that gave the Ramblers a 33-25 lead. Then he scored a baseline layup. Finally he hit all four free throws he attempted in the quarter to finish with a team-high 13 points points.
"Any time you can hit a three when it's a five-point game like that, that kind of demoralizes a team," Ahrens said.
Defensively, Mooseheart held Westminster Christian to less than 10 points in each quarter.
"I can't complain about our effort or what we were doing, giving up 30 points," Ahrens said.
Mooseheart's last postseason success in boys basketball came when Illinois still had a single class, when it won a district title in 1964.
"That would be a great thing if we could get a regional title," Ahrens said. "But we're playing a tough team. They're the best in our area. They play good team basketball and they play hard."
Westminster Christian 5 9 9 7 - 30
Mooseheart 10 10 10 15 - 45