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Just by looking at scores, it might be possible to deduce that both of Mooseheart’s basketball games at the Class 1A Serena Regional have been nearly identical.
Both games have been very comfortable victories for the Ramblers, first a 59-27 win over Hinckley-Big Rock and then Wednesday’s 69-47 upset of Westminster Christian.
The similarities pretty much end with those scorelines however. The manner of each game was quite different and Mooseheart (15-6) has shown in so far that it has more than one way to win a ballgame.
Wednesday’s win sets up a Friday night showdown with the regional hosts. The Ramblers and Huskers tip off at 7 p.m. with a spot in next week’s Ottawa Marquette Sectional on the line. Mooseheart last played in a regional championship game in the 2014-15 season, one year after the Ramblers won the Class 1A state title.
“We have talked about getting a chance to win a regional,” Mooseheart boys basketball coach Pete Daneels said. “We had to beat a team that, by the seeds, we were better than. We had to beat a team that was better than us. Now we have to beat a disciplined and fundamentally-sound team – at home. Our guys will be ready to play.”
Against Westminster Christian (20-7), the key was a balanced attack. Na’Shawn Howze, who scored 27 points in the tournament opener, scored 11 points. But he was joined in double-digit scoring by four teammates, including Wendell Lanphear, who led all scorers with 17 points. Lanphear was also key to the Ramblers’ defensive efforts.
“It all starts defensively for us,” Daneels said. “We came out with a game plan to put (Lanphear) on No. 23 (Ben Versluys), who is their best player. We thought that, with his size, he would do well, and that was the key.”
Also reaching double-digit scoring for the Ramblers were Styles Redmond (12 points), Mike Lowe (11 points) and Edgar Yusuf (11 points.)
“Offensively, we shot better than we did against Hinckley, and it wasn’t a one-man show,” Daneels said. “To beat a team like Westminster, who we have historically struggled with here at Mooseheart, that’s what we had to have.”
The game started evenly and Westminster Christian led 11-9 after the first quarter. Led by an eight-point second quarter by Redmond, the Ramblers took the lead and pushed the margin to 30-15 by halftime. Despite numerous comeback attempts, Westminster Christian was never able to put together a serious run at the Ramblers.
“I knew they would make a run, but there were two or three times where they got close and (Lanphear) hit dagger three’s to push the score back,” Daneels said.
Versluys scored 16 points to lead Westminster Christian in scoring while Will Kmieciak added 13 points.