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No. 3 Saints beat Jays

Jamestown’s Marc Wagner surveys the floor as Daniel Neff of Bismarck St. Mary’s defends during Tuesday night’s game at the JHS gym. (John M. Steiner / The Sun)

Jamestown and Bismarck St. Mary’s entered Tuesday’s game with their West Region seeds already determined.

It was quite the tune-up for the Saints.

Led by all-state performers Ben Weisbeck and Darius Sparks, third-ranked St. Mary’s rolled to an 80-58 win at the JHS gym. The two teams meet again in the opening round of the West Region tournament March 6 at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“It’s WDA and anybody can win at WDA,” said Weisbeck, whose team will be the No. 2 seed, while Jamestown is seventh. “It doesn’t matter who we’re gonna play. We still have to bring the same effort.”

Weisbeck, a first-team all-state pick, had a game-high 27 points, while Sparks — a second-team selection — finished with 20 including four 3-pointers.

“I love playing with Darius,” Weisbeck said. “We really have that connection, that chemistry together. It’s fun playing with him.”

For Jamestown, it was a second chance to try and slow down the Saints after not faring well in the season’s first matchup. This outing wasn’t much different in the first half, as St. Mary’s used an early 11-0 run to get out to a 21-8 lead. The game was never within single digits thereafter.

“They have a 1-2 punch there,” Jamestown coach Kelley Kessler said. “You’ve got to pick your poison and hope somebody’s missing shots. The inside of Ben and the outside of Darius is a tough combination.”

There was renewed vigor in the second half, as the Blue Jays held St. Mary’s to just two 3-pointers over the first 8 minutes, 29 seconds. And though Jamestown struggled to close the gap, St. Mary’s had trouble widening it. The Blue Jays won the second half by a point.

“Once we started getting back on defense and started taking good shots, we did a little better,” Kessler said.

The Blue Jays were paced by Logan Anderson’s 17 points. Nick Fuchs added 12.

Kessler said staying out of the play-in game gives his team a full week to prepare for the rematch with St. Mary’s.

“It’s kind of weird thing — it’s the second time this year we will have played someone back to back,” said Kessler, referring to playing Turtle Mountain twice in the same week earlier this season. “This will be on a big stage, on the big floor at the Civic Center. We put ourselves in position that we don’t have to be in the play-in game. We have a week to prepare, and the kids should feel good about that.”

Bismarck St. Mary’s 80, Jamestown 58

St. Mary’s 53 80

Jamestown 30 58

St. Mary’s — Ben Weisbeck 27, Darius Sparks 20, Dan Neff 12, Grant Dvorak 7, Hunter Puetz 5, Brian Obritsch 4, Ross Kopp 3, Scott Nagel 2. Totals 31-55 11-16 80.

Jamestown — Logan Anderson 17, Nick Fuchs 12, Noah Wanzek 11, Marc Wagner 8, Ashton Johnson 4, Scott Nelson 2, Tanner Lunzman 2, Ross Monson 2. Totals 23-54 11-18 58.

3-pointers: StM 7-21 (Sparks 4, Dvorak, Puetz, Kopp), J 1-9 (Fuchs). Rebounds: StM 31 (Nagel 8, Dvorak 8), J 26 (Anderson 8). Assists: StM 21 (Kopp 6), J 6 (Nelson 2). Fouls: StM 16, J 13. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: StM 20, J 23.

Records: Bismarck St. Mary’s 13-3 region, 16-3 overall. Jamestown 4-12, 5-14.

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or