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Two Girls Standing & Smiling

Mooseheart Claims First Boys Basketball Sectional Title

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


Mooseheart guard Hameed Odunewu works through a Chicagoland Jewish double team during the Ramblers Sectional title game victory.
Mooseheart's boys basketball team celebrate with the Class 1A Serena Sectional plaque. Saturday's victory over Chicagoland Jewish marked the first sectional title in school history.

Serena, IL, Mar. 8 Scissors in hand, one by one, Mooseheart's boys basketball players took turns cutting down the net after defeating Chicagoland Jewish on Saturday for the Class 1A Serena Sectional title.

It says everything about Mooseheart's lack of postseason success that the Ramblers needed instructions as to how to snip the cords on net. Eventually, though, the net came down when coach Ron Ahrens handled the final strands. He took the net and tossed it to his team, which celebrated its first sectional title and its first trip to an IHSA supersectional.

The Ramblers, 50-35 victors over Chicagoland Jewish, advanced to meet Lanark Eastland on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb. The winner of Tuesday's game heads to the state semifinals in Peoria.

"We keep talking about the number of games that we have left," Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said. "Going into tonight, we had four left. Now it's three. We've got to get to work now, getting ready for Tuesday. Eastland's a very good team."

While the game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter, the pattern for the contest was established in the early moments of the game. Chicagoland Jewish attempted to slow the pace of the game, the Tigers missed shots, Mooseheart rebounded and worked the ball inside on its own offensive end, and scored.

By the end of the first quarter, Mooseheart led 16-2 and though Chicagoland Jewish attempted several rallies, the Ramblers kept a double-digit nearly the rest of the game.

The pattern for the game was much different from the 2013 sectional semifinal between the teams, which Chicagoland Jewish won.

"We had a year," Ahrens said. "We wanted to play Chicagoland Jewish again. We talked about it all year. I said that if we got it to the wing and then got it in to the post, it'd be hard for them to stop us. And that's just what we did."

That post player was Makur Puou, and his inside scoring was one of the keys to the win. He finished with a game-high 25 points, including 17 in the second half.

"We came out and knew what we were going to do," Puou said. "We knew we had to go hard on them. But I knew I had to use my height, even with them collapsing down inside."

Even when he wasn't scoring, Puou remained a threat, and that opened outside scoring for guard Mangisto Deng, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, a half in which the Ramblers opened a 28-17 lead.

"My teammates were passing the ball to me at the right time to the right place, so that was good," Puou said. "I knew those guys weren't going to stop me down low."

Despite Chicagoland Jewish's slowdown tactics, Mooseheart still scored 50 points. Through the second half, the Ramblers kept the Tigers from mounting a serious comeback. Josh Newlander was a threat throughout the game, hitting 5 three-pointers and scoring 19 points. But only three of his teammates scored, and the next-highest scorer was Jeremy Goodman, who scored 6 points.

"Defensively, I thought we did really well, except for losing Newlander a couple of times," Ahrens said.


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