MINOT-The Minot High School boys basketball team wanted to be tested, and Jamestown happily obliged.
The Magicians (7-5) went toe to toe with the top team in the state on Saturday, as they hosted the unbeaten No. 1-ranked Jamestown Blue Jays (13-0). After a tightly-contested first half, it was the seasoned veterans of the Blue Jays that shined down the stretch to lift their team to a 78-58 win.
"If there's a better team in the state (than Jamestown), I haven't seen them," MHS head coach Dean Winczewski said. "But I thought we continued to battle. We challenged our kids to take pride in what they did tonight, and I think we took a step in the right direction."
The Magi fed off the electric home crowd in the early going, as Jaxon Gunville soared through the air for a layup and fellow junior Easton Larson worked his way into the paint for an and-one shot to give Minot a quick 4-0 lead.
Now trailing 10-8 with 12 minutes on the clock, Jamestown's offense woke up. The Blue Jays launched a 12-0 run in a span of just three minutes that featured four different scorers and six second-chance points to take a commanding 20-10 lead.
But Minot battled back, and Larson led the way. The 6-foot-6 center carved up the Blue Jays in the paint for 13 points and even flashed his range with a 15-foot jumper to help give his team a slim 35-34 edge at halftime.
"Minot has a really good team," Jamestown head coach Jacoby Lloyd said. "They have some unbelievable shooters, and Easton Larson is the real deal down low. They played hard, and we just wanted to come out in the second half with more focus."
The Blue Jays did just that. Jamestown junior Boden Skunberg came out of the break on a mission, scoring his team's first six points with a pair of put-back shots and a sweet mid-range shot that found the bottom of the net.
Not to be outdone by Larson, Jamestown senior Marshall Walters also found his groove down low. The 6-foot-7 forward went on a personal 7-0 run midway through the second half to extend the Blue Jays' lead to 54-41.
"We just didn't pay enough attention to detail in the second half," MHS senior Alex Schimke said. "We lost (Jamestown) defensively. That falls on everybody on the team, so we just have to be more consistent."
The Magi managed to cut the lead down to as little as nine thanks to a pair of buckets from Gunville, but the Blue Jays never let up en route to the 78-58 victory.
"It all goes back to the experience we have on the court right now," Lloyd said. "Our upperclassmen just don't flinch when stuff happens on the court. They know what the game plan is, and they execute."
Skunberg finished with a game-high 23 points and seven boards for Jamestown, while Walters added 21 points and 10 boards. For the Magi, Larson led the way with 15 points while Gunville and Schimke each totaled 14 points.
Jamestown will look to stay unbeaten when it hosts Turtle Mountain Community High School next Tuesday at 7:45 p.m., while the Magi will try to rebound when they face Bismarck High on the road Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.