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Feb. 24—Ten Blue Jay seniors were honored prior to their last ever regular-season high school basketball game.
"Our seniors stepped up and it meant something to them to go out with a win," Jamestown High School boys basketball head coach Jacoby Lloyd said. "They understand the implications of this game and what it could mean for our season."
The Blue Jays finished out the regular season with a 66-52 win over Mandan at Jerry Meyer Arena Tuesday night. The Jays wrapped up at 15-5 while Mandan finished at 13-7 in the West Region standings. Lloyd and his senior-heavy squad have plans to make a run at the WDA tournament and the state tourney for the third straight year.
"It meant a lot to get this win tonight and I think we are going to work really hard to get the next win at WDAs," Blue Jay senior Brooks Carroll said.
This year's WDA tournament will run March 2, 4 and 6 with the higher seeds hosting the first two rounds of the tournament. Both the girls and boys basketball region tournaments will conclude March 6 with two, three-game sessions — two state qualifiers and a championship. The West Region teams are slated to play at the Bismarck Event Center.
Most of the Blue Jay seniors have been playing in high-pressure, postseason games since their sophomore season — the year the Jays went undefeated en route to their first state title since 1993.
The Class of 2021 was well prepared for the challenges on the court, as most of the varsity squad has been competing together since the mid-2010s.
"I've got my twin (Shea Carroll) and I've been playing with him since I was 3, but we've all been playing together since seventh grade," Carroll said. "There's a lot of history there; a lot of time put into the gym together.
The stakes have only gotten higher as the years have gone on.
"Tonight I thought we all worked well together," Carroll said. "I thought we worked hard for each other and it ended in a win tonight."
Seeds two, three and four are yet to be determined for the postseason. With the win over Mandan, the Jays are seeded no lower than No. 3 and have a shot at the No. 2 spot if Bismarck High pulls out a win against Legacy. Legacy will clinch No. 2 with a win over BHS.
Even though Mandan is already the fifth seed, they did not make the Jays' quest for the second spot an easy one.
The two teams matched each other shot for shot, tying the game at 17 apiece before the Blue Jays slung it out to seniors Ty Monson and Brooks Carroll on the perimeter. The duo knocked down 4 of their combined 6 3-pointers to spark an 11-2 run that put the Jays up 30-19.
"I thought our offense was good and our defense was really, really good tonight," Lloyd said. "Our kids understand the urgency that we need to play with now. I thought every single person who stepped on the floor contributed today.
"You never know who is going to step up. I thought Kade Schumacher did an amazing job defensively, I thought Devin Beach came in and gave us great energy and Ty played really well off the bench. We've got a good flow going now with our team."
Mandan's Aaron Grubb knocked down six two-point buckets and 2 of 4 foul shots to help counter the Jays' hot-handed shooting. Grubb and the rest of the Braves' squad put up a 5-0 run to make it a six-point ball game. The Blue Jays continued to apply pressure down the stretch and forced a handful of turnovers to make it a 33-28 game at the halfway mark.
Mandan came out swinging to start off the second, knocking down a couple of shots en route to a 34-33 advantage. The Jays swung back putting up an unanswered eight points to pull ahead 43-34. Keith Levin kept the pressure inside racking up 17 below the hoop.
Schumacher also came alive offensively in the second knocking down a pair from beyond the arc, helping carry the momentum into the final seconds of the game. Jacob Hilgemann ended the tilt with a pair of free throws.
Carroll ended the night as the team's leading scorer with 18 points.
Lloyd said he hopes the momentum can carry the team through the nine-day break that awaits the team before the postseason officially tips off.
"If we can keep it rolling and playing with this sense of urgency, I think good things will happen," Lloyd said. "But whatever team shows up, our league is so competitive and deep that it will be a dog fight. It will be a tough game."
Jamestown 66, Mandan 52
MAN 28 24 — 52
JHS 33 33 — 66
MAN — Aaron Grubb 14, Jayce Lowman 12, Jacob Pierce 11, Tyler Thilmony 6, Lucas Burgum 3, Jonathan LaFleur 2, Nathan Gerding 2, Jaxon Duttenhefer 2. Totals: 21 FG, 7-12 FT, 14 fouls. 3-pointers: Lowman 2, Pierce 1.
JHS — Brooks Carroll 18, Keith Levin 17, Ty Monson 10, Jacob Hilgemann 6, Kade Schumacher 6, Shea Carroll 3, Devin Beach 2, Luke Van Berkom 2, Carson Lamp 2. Totals: 26 FG, 6-12 FT, 15 fouls. 3-pointers: Carroll 4, Monson 2, Schumacher 2.
Records: Jamestown 15-5, 15-5 West Region. Mandan 13-7, 13-7 West Region.