JAMESTOWN — With Jamestown High School, Bismarck High and Bismarck St. Mary’s all vying for the fourth spot in the West Region, Tuesday night’s game between the Blue Jays and Demons became even more crucial.
The fourth seed will go to Bismarck High for now, as the Demons defeated the Blue Jays 75-54 at Jerry Meyer Arena. Bismarck improves to 10-6 in the WDA, while Jamestown dropped to 9-6.
“We knew this was a big one and it’s still going to come down to the wire,” said Demons coach Bill Shetler. “We still have six games left and both teams do. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but just for us to keep progressing in this direction is huge.”
Bismarck High has a half-game advantage for the fourth seed and can basically clinch a possible tiebreaker over St. Mary’s and Jamestown with a victory over the Saints in its next game on Friday. The Demons defeated the Saints 57-49 on Dec. 21.
“It wasn’t something that we had a goal in mind, but we just wanted to come in here and win,” Shetler said. “They beat us by eight (56-48) and if we could get a double-digit win it would help.
“We’re just planning on playing well and finding a way to win tonight.”
Jamestown has already played Bismarck High and St. Mary’s twice, however, earning a split against each team. If The Demons defeat the Saints on Friday, the Blue Jays would be behind both teams in a tiebreaker.
“Every game is big down the stretch. It doesn’t matter who we play, it’s big,” said Blue Jay coach Andy Skunberg. “We’re in that 4-6 dogfight with them and tiebreaker-wise we’re behind both of them. That’s a little bit of a problem, but there’s a lot of basketball left to play till the end of the season.”
Bismarck High took a 29-26 lead into halftime as Jamestown used a 6-0 run to end the half. The Blue Jays took a 30-29 lead after the intermission -- the first advantage since 10-8 in the first half -- as Kameron Selvig scored four straight points to begin the half.
But that was the last time Jamestown led during the contest. Bismarck used a 12-2 run to take a 42-33 lead and the Demons never looked back.
“Bismarck came ready to play tonight. They’re intensity was a lot higher than ours, their physicality was 10 times higher and it took us out of our rhythm,” Skunberg said. “We got a lot of fouls and got to the free-throw line a lot, because of their physicality.”
Bismarck High held Jamestown’s leading scorer, Selvig, to 11 points on 2 of 7 shooting. Courtney Peterson was limited to 4 points and Grace Hegele tallied 10.
“Selvig is a heck of a player and we just had to limit her much as we could,” Shetler said. “I thought we did a good job on her. She scored five to start the half, but then we made her earn the rest.”
Shetler added about Peterson: “We just wanted to make Peterson’s touches tough and luckily we did a good job of that.”
The Blue Jays’ Jessa Anderson surpassed her previous season-high of 11 points with 15, including 12 in the first half. The junior was averaging 5 points coming into Tuesday’s game.
“She’s getting some confidence,” Skunberg said. “The last three games she’s been playing a little better every time and that’s what we need. She’s getting experienced and things under control. We need her to keep this up.”
Jamestown travels to Minot (4-12) on Friday night. The Blue Jays defeated the Majettes 54-51 back on Jan. 18.
“Road games in the WDA are always though,” Skunberg said. “We got to start doing the little things again. We still have to continue worrying about and being ourselves.”
Blue Jays 77, Demons 54
Jamestown High School guard Dawson Douty was on the end of a pretty lopsided mismatch in the first half.
The 5-foot-10 senior was posting up Bismarck High’s tallest player -- 6-4 Canyon Stonecipher -- in the post. Douty made Stonecipher’s shot contested as possible and the shot rimmed out.
The Demons went 19 for 63 from the field (30 percent) as the Blue Jays were victorious 77-54 in a West Region rematch. Jamestown defeated Bismarck 73-62 back on Dec. 7.
The top-ranked Blue Jays stayed undefeated at 16-0, while the Demons dropped to 12-5 on the season.
“He’s (Stoncipher) is tough and a physical kid,” Douty said. “I was going to flop, but I stood straight up and let him shoot over me. That’s what coach (Jacoby Lloyd) taught me. If he makes it, he makes it.”
Coach Lloyd has given Douty the defensive role, one of the many non-boxscore roles on the team. Many others like Jared Kallenbach (leader/third scorer), Noah Wegenast (big guy off the bench) and others have stepped up in key roles.
“He’s (Lloyd) has taught me my role. I’ve learned my role and it’s basically defense,” Douty said. “When he needs me to step up, I’ll step up and I’ll do my best to stay in front of my guy.”
Jamestown held Bismarck’s trio of Matt Trolliey, Joe Jahner and Canyon Stonecipher to 48 of 54 points scored and 17 of 47 from the field (36 percent).
“I would like to see us do a better job on Joe Jahner, but he’s very good basketball player,” Lloyd said. “He’s going to make tough shots and we forced him to make tough shots. It really came down to rebounding and taking care of the basketball.”
The Demons’ Dyllon Sicble hit the opening 3-pointer, but that’s the only lead they mustered in the contest. BHS kept the game close until 9-7.
Jamestown used four 4-0 and a pair of 5-0 runs to take a 32-18 lead late in the first quarter. The Blue Jays roughly held serve from there, taking a 40-29 lead into the break.
The Demons didn’t get any closer than 11 points, however, as three more mini runs of 4-0 and one 5-0 broke the game open at 57-38 in the second half. Jamestown cruised from there.
“We’ve got a very good senior-led team that understands when to make plays, when to attack, slow the tempo down and when to speed it up,” Lloyd said. “I try to lean heavily on the leadership of Jared Kallenbach. It’s pretty impressive the way he steers our team in the right direction every single game.”
Jamestown holds a three-game advantage over Mandan (11-3) for the top spot in the West Region with five contests to go for both teams. The Blue Jays need to win three of the next five to clinch the No. 1 seed and regular-season WDA title.
The hunt for the top seed continues Friday night as Jamestown hosts Minot (10-5, 10-5). The Magicians (receiving votes) defeated Bismarck Legacy 78-63 on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays beat the Magicians 78-58 on the road Jan. 19 after overcoming a 35-34 deficit at the break.
“Minot is one of the most skilled teams in the state,” Lloyd said. “They shoot the 3-pointer at a very high rate, so we have to take away the 3-point line. Their post players are big, physical and they’ll definitely have a plan to get Mason away from the basket.
“It’s going to come down to some of our role players stepping up and making some plays.”