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JAMESTOWN -- Jamestown High School was running right behind the leaders in the West Region Tuesday night, but it fell just short of the finish line.

With about five seconds remaining, sophomore forward Boden Skunberg had a chance to win the game at the buzzer -- and get his 33rd point of the night -- but the shot fell short at the buzzer. Bismarck escaped with a 70-68 victory at Jerry Meyer Arena.

“I told the team to keep their heads up,” said Blue Jay boys basketball coach Jacoby Lloyd. “We just took one of the best teams in North Dakota down to the wire.”

A loss could have put a damper on Bismarck’s No. 3 state ranking. The Demons’ only conference loss came at the hands of Bismarck Century 10 days prior.

“Most of us have an eye on the state championship,” said junior guard Joe Jahner Jr. “I think we can do that easily. It’s mostly about playing our best basketball and sharing the ball well; playing good defense.”

Bismarck has two crucial West Region matchups remaining. One coming against second-place Mandan, and the other vs. fourth-place Minot.

It was looking as if Jamestown might pull away after the break taking an early eight-point lead in the second half. The Demons responded with an 18-2 run and within five minutes the visitors had an eight-point lead of its own with 10 minutes remaining. Jahner Jr. led the run with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

“They did a nice job of speeding us up and we took the very first shot instead of the best shot,” Lloyd said. “We have a bad tendency right now of letting our offense affect our defense. If we miss a shot we don’t sprint down the floor and get a stop. We do it play by play but it needs to be every single play.”

Bismarck led by as many as 12 points, but a 16-2 Jamestown run -- led by Skunberg making some tough shots, including a four-point play -- had the Blue Jays leading 63-61 with three minutes to play.

“(Skunberg) was hitting some really tough shots that no one in the WDA can do,” Jahner Jr. said. “He’s only a sophomore so that’s amazing.”

A 6-0 Bismarck run down the stretch turned the tide. Skunberg was able to cut the deficit to 70-68 in the final 15 seconds, but the Jays came up short.

Jahner Jr. led four Demons in double-figures with 13 points. Along with Skunberg’s game-high 30 points, junior forward Mason Walters pitched in 14 points for the Blue Jays.

Jamestown 63, Bismarck 49

The Jamestown High School girls basketball team did not want the same fate as last time it played Bismarck High School.

Sophomore guard Cadee Ryckman sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Demons a 66-63 victory on Dec. 12.

This time, Jamestown left nothing to chance as it cruised to a 63-48 victory on Tuesday night at Jerry Meyer Arena.

“I think we were more prepared this time,” said senior forward Megan Gaffaney. “We knew what to expect and it was a good game.”

The earlier loss sparked a four-game losing streak for the Blue Jays, but after that Jamestown won eight of its last 10, including six straight.

“We’re young,” said Jamestown girls basketball coach Andy Skunberg. “We had girls that haven't played much varsity basketball. Just gaining experience, getting used to the tempo, and getting used to each other. We’re starting to come along as a team now -- we still got a long ways to go.”

Eight players scored a basket in the victory for Jamestown and everyone that played scored. With only Gaffaney and junior forward Courtney Peterson averaging double figures for the Blue Jays, other players have stepped up.

“We are trying to be unselfish, find the open person and give them the ball and hope that person can knock down a shot,” Skunberg said. “Playing as a team where we can all chip in. It’s tough to defend when who do you try and stop?”

The Blue Jays shot 48 percent in the first half and 7 of 11 (63 percent) from 3-point range, while Bismarck High shot 33 percent.

“That’s kind of contagious,” Skunberg said about their shooting. “A couple people start hitting shots and you could see the ball bouncing all over the rim and they go in. Seems like when someone’s hitting everybody hits. It’s good to see people get hot.”

Gaffaney, Jamestown’s leading scorer, posted all 10 of her points in the second half.

“She took it on her shoulders,” Skunberg said. “She’s one of those that takes it tough to the hole and got a couple and-ones. She stepped up as a senior tonight and shots fell for her.”

Bismarck stepped up defensively forcing 26 Jamestown turnovers, many coming in the second half.

“They started putting up the pressure a little bit and that’s something we got to be able to handle,” Skunberg said. “Our passing was a little weak.”

For the Demons, junior forward Hannah Golus and sophomore forward Olivia Dickerson tied for a team-high 10 points.

Michael Weber is a Bismarck Tribune sportswriter

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