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Mooseheart senior Kevin Gbadebo defends against Springfield's Avery Pearl in the first half of the Ramblers 50-37 victory.
Mooseheart's Makur Puou contests the opening tipoff with Springfield's Obediah Church (No. 23.)
Makur Puou drives to the basket to score 2 of his game-high 21 points in Mooseheart's 50-37 victory over Springfield.
WASHINGTON, IL Nov. 24 – For the first time this boys basketball season, Mooseheart's offense and defense worked in sync and the result was the Ramblers' first victory of the campaign.
Playing on Saturday in the fifth-place game of the Uftring Auto Group Invitational of the State Farm Tournament of Champions at Washington High School, Mooseheart (1-2) limited Springfield offensively in a wire-to-wire 50-37 victory.
Offensively, the spark was junior Makur Puou, who scored 14 points in the first half and finished with a 21-point, 21-rebound, seven-block effort.
“I think we accomplished what we wanted to in this tournament,” Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said. “We got better every game against some high quality competition.”
In losses to Dickson County, TN and Grandview. MO, Mooseheart's offense had struggled – but that was not the case against Springfield. The Senators tied the score 2-2 in the games's opening minutes, but the Ramblers then rattled off eight straight points and were never in trouble again.
By halftime, Mooseheart's lead had grown to 24-15 and only three Ramblers had scored. In addition to Puou's 14 points, senior Oumaru Abdulahi scored 7 points and Mangistu Deng had three points.
“I think we can be a real good team defensively,” Ahrens said. “We are going to struggle offensively. If people get out and play us hard or zone us up, we are going to struggle offensively. We missed, in each half, five very good looks from one or two feet, and shots that were easy looks.”
Springfield's best offensive surge of the second half came immediately after halftime when a 7-2 burst brought the Senators to within 26-22.
A pair of baskets by Abdulahi and a further basket by Puou took the lead to 32-22 and the gap between the teams never dipped below eight points the rest of the way. Puou scored seven second-half points, but his presence disrupted Springfield on both ends of the floor.
“He's taller than everyone,” Ahrens said. “The thing about him is that he played really hard. He has more opportunities to score because he plays really hard. What we have to do is get better offensively so he has more opportunities to score.”
In the fourth quarter, when Mooseheart needed a spark, Deng came alive and scored eight points to finish with 13 for the game. Abdulahi scored 11 points and was the Ramblers third player in double-digit scoring.
Keon Day and Connor Jacobs scored eight points apiece to lead Springfield.
This year marked Mooseheart's first in the Tournament of Champions.
“We played against some really good teams,” Ahrens said. “The first night, I never felt we were very much in the game. The second night, I felt we were in the game and had a chance to win it. Tonight, I felt we were in the game. I think we've improved throughout the tournament.”
Springfield: Dorr 0 0-0 0, Balster 1 0-0 3, Pearl 1 0-2 2, Kincaid 1 0-0 2, Jacobs 3 0-0 8, Church 3 0-0 6, Stephens 3 0-0 6, Day 3 2-2 8, Nelson 1 0-0 2.
Totals 16 2-4 37.
Mooseheart: Odunewu 1 0-0 2, Hart 0 1-2 1, Kurowski 1 0-0 2, Abdulahi 5 1-2 11, Ole-Sabay 0 0-0 0, Deng 5 2-3 13, Gbadebo 0 0-0 0, Puou 10 1-3 21, Sanni 0 0-0 0, Nyang 0 0-0 0, Okito 0 0-0 0.
Totals 22 5-10 50.
Springfield 7 8 9 13 - 37
Mooseheart 12 12 11 15 - 50
Springfield: Pearl 1, Jacobs 2.
Mooseheart: Deng 1. Fouled out: Balster.