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Mooseheart senior Makur Puou (right) avoids defensive pressure from Hope's Ricky Calvin to score two of his 22 points. Puou added 11 blocked shots and 14 rebounds in the Ramblers' win.
Mooseheart's Akim Nyang (No. 44) grabs a rebound despite pressure from several Hope players. Nyang scored five points as Mooseheart won and improved to 2-2.
MOOSEHEART, IL Dec. 3 – For Tuesday entertainment, Mooseheart debuted the Manny and Mac Show.
Manny (Mangisto Deng) and Mac (Makur Puou) jointly powered the Ramblers to a 69-53 Northeastern Athletic Conference victory in the team's home opener. Deng led all scorers with 30 points while Puou poured in 22 points, added 11 blocks and had 14 rebounds for a dominant triple-double.
"If those guys play like that every night, we're going to be a good basketball team," Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said. "Manny has 30, Mac has a triple-double. That's tough. If the Manny and Mac Show stays like that, we're going to be pretty good."
The pair were especially dominant in the first half. Puou had 8 of the Ramblers' 12 points in the first quarter while Deng scored 14 of the hosts' 20 points in the second quarter. Together, they had 28 of Mooseheart's 32 first half points.
The pair scored in different ways. Puou scored most of his with inside moves and short jumpers, though he added a thunderous dunk in the second half.
"I love playing teams like this," Ahrens said. "I love playing Peoria Manual. I love playing Hope. They get after you. They double-team your guards and you've got to pass the ball."
Deng shot four three-pointers and used a dribble-drive to the basket to great effect.
"The thing is that when we gave the ball to (Puou) down low, they were trapping him," Deng said. "They know that (Puou) one-on-one, he's going to score. So I was over there alone. If we all just score a little bit and a little bit, it's going to be easier."
The win improves Mooseheart's record to 2-2 after a two-loss day on Saturday in the Canton Thanksgiving Tournament.
"I tried to get (the record) to 2-2, because it was 1-2, and it was really bad," Puou said. "We wanted to be 2-2 and look forward to the other games coming."
Hope kept the contest close until midway through the second quarter. From a 16-16 tie, the Ramblers surged for a 32-24 halftime lead – and the visitors were kept at arm's length for the entirety of the second half.
"Those guys liked to press us," Puou said. "We came out with a fastbreak and tried to break that press. Freddie (Okito) handled the ball very well today."
Alejandro Munoz led the Eagles with 25 points. Carson Hughes added 10 points for Hope, which slipped progressively further behind through the second half.
"Those were good players," Puou said. "We played them last year and they were tough and we learned from it."
Mooseheart has a busy weekend. Thursday, the Ramblers visit NAC rival Westminster Christian for a 7 p.m. contest. Friday, Mooseheart visits Paw Paw for a 7:15 p.m. nonconference game. Saturday, the Ramblers head to Indianapolis to compete in the Indy Legacy Basketball Showcase.
"We want to win 8-9 games before Christmas, and we've got a tough road before Christmas," Ahrens said.
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