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Boys Basketball: Mooseheart routs IMSA for 16th straight win

Mooseheart won its 16th straight game in convincing fashion Monday, but coach Ron Ahrens doesn’t even think we’ve seen the best of his team.

The Red Ramblers dominated IMSA 73-30 to move one step closer to an undefeated Northeastern Athletic Conference title. Mooseheart can clinch that with a win Friday ovver Alden-Hebron.

“I just don’t think we played our best game yet,” Ahrens said. “We have spurts where we look very good and we have spurts where we don’t look very good. I call it a one-pass offense. Instead of working the ball around, whoever gets it, shoots it. I don’t like that. You’re not going to be able to win a sectional by doing that kind of stuff.”

Despite not playing the perfect game, the Red Ramblers (17-2, 8-0) put on a show at times. Mangisto Deng hit five three-pointers in the first half. High-flying Makur Puou put down three acrobatic dunks, two off alley-oop passes. Hameed Odunewu threw down a couple of fourth-quarter dunks as well.

It was too much for IMSA (6-9, 4-3) to handle. The Titans tried their best to take advantage of one of Mooseheart’s rough spots, free-throw shooting, by fouling often. But Mooseheart was able to overcome its 11-for-22 performance from the line.

“Our game plan was to foul them and slow up the tempo, but our guys didn’t do a very good job of slowing it up,” IMSA coach Brad Snead said. “I just wanted to shorten up the game a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Isaiah Butler paced IMSA with 14 points. Puou led Mooseheart with 24. Deng added 17, while Odunewu and Peter Kurowski each scored 10. Kurowski, a senior, scored all 10 in the third quarter on Senior Night.

It’s the start of a big week for Mooseheart. After Tuesday’s regular-season conference finale, the Red Ramblers will prepare to play in the NAC Tournament this weekend. In addition to that, Mooseheart is scheduled to face downstate power Bartonville Limestone (17-2) at Batavia’s Night of Hoops Saturday at 3 p.m.

Mooseheart’s junior varsity team, which is unbeaten this season, will play in the NAC semifinals while the varsity team takes on Limestone. If they are able to win, the varsity team would come back and play again Saturday night for the conference title. It has the makings for a hectic weekend that will unfold on the fly.

“We’re working hard and trying to keep winning one by one,” Puou said. “We’re looking forward to this weekend. We know it will be exciting. We’re ready for it. We’re very excited to play a team like (Limestone). I like competition. It’s a good challenge. I love that.”

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