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Blue Jays geared up for West Region

Jamestown's John Horgan (5) and Jacob Hilgemann (23) defend while Mandan's Camren Steckler fires up a shot Feb. 20 at Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Jamestown's Alyssa Ukestad feels pressure from Legacy's Taryn Allmaras earlier this season at Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

The Jamestown boys basketball team has a tough draw Thursday in the opening round of the West Region tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center.

The Blue Jays will meet up with fourth-ranked Mandan at 8:15 in the evening. The Braves and the Jays met twice during the regular season, with Mandan winning both contests.

But Jamestown took the Braves down to the wire the last time out. Mandan snuck out of Jamestown with a hard-fought 80-76 victory over the Jays on Feb. 20 at Jerry Meyer Arena.

"Any of the top four teams are difficult for anyone," said Jamestown coach Jacoby Lloyd. "Some of the familiarity playing Mandan again will help."

Mandan topped the West Region in both scoring and rebounding during this winter. They're led by senior Trae Steckler who averages 20.3 points per game, while shooting 71 percent from the floor. Steckler's twin brother, Cameron, averages nearly 15 ppg, while junior Keshawn LaFromboise is the third double-digit scorer with 13.7.

"For them it's keeping them out out the paint," Lloyd said. "Some of the biggest things we've been stressing is our effort and attitude. You never know how your offense will play so you have to be good defensively."

The Blue Jays have a 5-7 record away from Jerry Meyer Arena, while having a 5-3 record at home. Jamestown's worst home loss came by nine points.

Big men Mason Walters and Boden Skunberg are the top scorers for the Blue Jays. The duo averages 31.5 points per night combined.

"We don't want these kids to feel like it's a different event or venue we just want them to play Blue Jay basketball," Lloyd said. "Hopefully that's enough to get a WDA victory on Thursday."

JHS girls set to face Legacy

The fifth-seeded Jamestown girls basketball team will face Legacy in the West Region opener on Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center.

The Sabers won 67-46 during the first matchup in late December, but Jamestown won the second contest after Kameron Selvig hit two game-winning free throws.

Legacy is led by senior Whitney Thomas who averages 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Junior Taryn Allmaras and Ashley Hulm each average roughly 9.0 in the scoring column.

"I expect a lot of the same things," said Jamestown coach Andy Skunberg about Legacy. "They'll press us quite a bit so we've concentrated on that."

The Blue Jays are led by senior Megan Gaffaney's 14.3 points per night. Junior Courtney Peterson, a threat from beyond the arc, is averaging 11.6 points and Kameron Selvig has come off the bench averaging 11 per game.

The Blue Jays have been practicing full-court drills inside the Jamestown Civic Center this week to prepare for Legacy on the larger court in Bismarck.

"We've been trying to fine-tune our offense to make sure we are running things the way we are supposed to," Skunberg said.

The contest is scheduled to get underway at 3:45.

"We want to win two before we lose two," Skunberg said. "Every WDA team is tough, there's no easy route we just have to take care of ourselves."

West Region tournament quarterfinals

Boys (Main Arena)

No. 1 Century vs. No. 8 Dickinson, 3 p.m.

No. 4 Minot vs. No. 5 Legacy, 4:45 p.m.

No. 2 Bismarck vs. No. 7 St. Mary's, 6:30 p.m.

No. 3 Mandan vs. Jamestown, 8:15 p.m.

Girls (Exhibit Hall)

No. 1 Century vs. No. 8 Dickinson, 2 p.m.

No. 4 Legacy vs. No. 5 Jamestown, 3:45 p.m.

No. 2 St. Mary's vs. No. 7 Minot, 5:30 p.m.

No. 3 Mandan vs. No. 6 Bismarck, 7:15.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853