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NUMBER ONE: Blue Jay boys ranked first in Class A poll

MOVING ON UP: Jimmies upset Comets, share conference lead

University of Jamestown's Kevin Oberweiser (1) looks to move the ball Saturday as Mayville State's Cameron Epps moves in on defense at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 3
University of Jamestown's Christian Kvilvang (13) motions for a play Saturday as Mayville State's Daniel Lindgren defends. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 3
University of Jamestown's Jon Purintun (5) looks to pass the ball Saturday as Mayville State's Gorg Alhag moves in on defense inside the Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 3

Carter Keller is all of a sudden logging big-time minutes off the bench for conference-leading University of Jamestown men's basketball.

The sophomore guard looked the part for a second-straight game for the surging Jimmies. Keller entered Saturday's contest against 22nd-ranked Mayville State University after just 3 minutes, 37 seconds, and he promptly buried three first-half 3-pointers and scored 15 total points to help the Jimmies upset the Comets 69-62 at Harold Newman Arena.

Keller, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D, hit two 3s, scored 12 points and pulled in six rebounds off the bench Thursday during the Jimmies' 78-71 victory at Dickinson State.

"It's just part of my role," said Keller, who checked in against the Comets after starting junior guard Jon Purintun picked up a second early foul. "Coach (Danny Neville) wants me to come in and give energy, and just be able to hit shots, play defense and get rebounds."

Keller's recent spark couldn't have come at a better time. The Jimmies have won four in a row and 10 of their last 13, as senior guard Ben Weisbeck—who was sidelined Saturday with a walking boot on his right foot—has been dealing with an ankle injury that dates back to the first half of January, according to Jimmie men's coach Neville.

Keller was averaging just 3.1 points in 6.4 minutes per game prior to the weekend. He played nearly 26 minutes against the Comets, helping the Jimmies (8-5 NSAA) to a three-way tie for the top spot in the North Star Athletic Association standings with Dickinson State (8-5) and Bellevue University (8-5) with three games to play.

Dickinson State fell 79-77 in double-overtime at Valley City State on Saturday, while Bellevue took down Waldorf 84-72. Ironically, the Jimmies, Blue Hawks and Bruins each earned a share of the NSAA conference championship last season.

"Carter's last two games against arguably two of the top teams in our conference, he's just exploded," Neville said. "He's one of those guys that all along we knew he could, and all of a sudden I think that light just switched.

"He's confident, he believes in himself and we believe in him."

The solid supporting role backed a career night by Jimmie junior guard Kevin Oberweiser. Oberweiser finished one assist shy of a triple-double, logging 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Jamestown's Leighton Sampson muscled his way through the paint for 21 points on 10 of 22 from the field, while also collecting four blocks.

The home team largely outworked the Comets, who defeated the Jimmies 80-66 back before Christmas. Jamestown outrebounded Mayville State 24-14 in the first half and 44-36 in the game, and also limited the Comets to just 23 of 65 from the field (35 percent), including 5 of 18 from 3-point range.

The Jimmies finished the first half on a 9-0 run and led 41-30 at the break. The Comets' Gorg Alhag and Garek Droog each posted a team-high 12 points.

"That's what we've done the last two games," Neville said. "Our two keys were to outwork them and out-tough them, and we feel like we did that tonight again. Credit our guys."

Mayville, however, didn't go down quietly. The Comets evaporated a 15-point (53-38) second-half Jimmie lead to just four points (66-62) with under 2 minutes to play.

But a Purintun jumper in the lane and the back-end of two at the line by the Jimmies' Jack Talley in the final 30 seconds put the game on ice. Purintun finished with 12 points, seven boards and five assists.

"I told them it was going to be a grind-out win," Neville said. "(Mayville State men's basketball coach) Darren Tighe is doing a tremendous job with his guys in his first year. That's a tough team."

Jamestown hosts Bellevue and Valley City State this Friday and Saturday. The Jimmies wrap up the regular season at Presentation College on Feb. 17.

"We're starting to get rolling here and feel more comfortable," Keller said. "It's a good time at the end of the year to start feeling like that."

Jamestown 69, (22) Mayville State 62

Mayville St. 30 32 -- 62

Jamestown 41 28 -- 69

Mayville St.—Gorg Alhag 12, Garek Droog 12, Daniel Lindgren 10, Cameron Epps 7, Eric Staebler 6, Taylor Delaughter 5, Daymarcco Green 4, Jack Turnbull 3, Creighton Pfau 3. Totals: 23-65 FG, 11-15 FT, 5-18 3-pointers (Delaughter, Lindgren, Epps, Turnbull, Pfau), 36 Rebounds (Droog 6), 20 Fouls (Green), 10 Assists (Epps 5), 12 Turnovers, 2 Blocks, 2 Steals.

Jamestown—Leighton Sampson 21, Carter Keller 15, Kevin Oberweiser 13, Jon Purintun 12, Sam Johnson 5, Jack Talley 3. Totals: 27-63 FG, 9-16 FT, 6-19 3-pointers (Keller 3, Oberweiser 2, Johnson), 44 Rebounds (Oberweiser 10), 15 Fouls, 17 Assists (Oberweiser 9), 10 Turnovers, 4 Blocks (Sampson 4), 1 Steal.

Records: Jamestown 19-7, 8-5 NSAA. Mayville State 14-7, 7-5.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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