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L-L-M fends off Oakes at JCC

Oakes' Drew Dethlefsen (35) moves the ball around L-L-M's Alex Klever on Saturday at the Jamestown Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion's Jamison Kramer is a young man who lets his play do most of the talking.

The 6-foot-4 senior guard scored 18 of a game-high 25 points on 7 of 10 shooting and 3 of 4 at the foul line in the first half on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Jamestown Civic Center. The effort helped the Loboes finish undefeated in District 5 play (6-0) with a 69-57 victory over the Oakes Tornadoes.

Saturday's contest was considered a home game for the Tornadoes. L-L-M and Oakes were supposed to meet up in Oakes on Jan. 29, but the contest was postponed due to the recent snap of harsh winter weather.

"It just felt good. My teammates got me open and helped me out," Kramer said on feeling out the 94-foot court in Jamestown. "We're feeling really good, working hard and playing good defense."

L-L-M veteran coach Darren Thielges, however, believes the Loboes could've worked harder in the team's 11th consecutive victory. Oakes (6-9) was busy on the glass at both ends of the court and never let the Loboes get out front by more than 12 points.

The Loboes (14-3) are receiving votes in the current state Class B media poll and have earned the No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 5 tournament beginning Feb. 22 back at the civic center.

"We were OK with our offensive number up there, but we weren't OK at all with the defensive number that we hung up there," Thielges said. "We weren't beating anybody to spots, on the ball or away from the ball. We were always in a trailing position and I'm sure they had a ton of offensive rebounds.

"We just can't give those up and that's what was most disappointing."

Oakes unofficially outrebounded L-L-M 31-24 with sophomore guard Steele Hansen leading the way with six. Hansen also produced a team-high 15 points before fouling out in the final minute.

An 11-2 run by L-L-M to close the second quarter turned the tide and opened up a 37-26 advantage for the Loboes heading into halftime. Oakes turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, which included a pair of Shay Ness steals that went back for 4 L-L-M points in transition.

Ness, a 5-10 senior, would later score 10 in the fourth quarter—going 6 of 6 at the free-throw line—and finished right behind Kramer in scoring with 23 points.

"The turnovers and taking care of the ball has been our Achilles' heel the whole year," said Oakes coach Nolen Peterson. "We've talked about it, we stress it at practice. And, believe it or not, it has gotten night and day better since the beginning of the year.

"I was proud with our kids' effort today. It just blows me away how much these kids have bought in and what they do."

Oakes was able to get within 5 points twice in the third, but still trailed 52-42 to start the final frame. The Loboes ultimately shot well enough (55 percent) to earn the victory.

The Loboes will finish the regular season hosting South Border on Thursday, Feb. 14, in LaMoure.

"Effort is something that isn't talent-driven," Thielges said. "It's gotta be something we bring every single time. We gotta get some heart back, regroup, get a week of practice and move on."

The Loboes currently own the best record in Region 3. L-L-M last appeared in the Class B state tournament in 2015, finishing fourth.

"We're going to make a run for it," Kramer said. "See what happens."

(RV) LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 69, Oakes 57

LLM 13 24 15 17 -- 69

OAK 13 13 16 15 -- 57

LLM—Jamison Kramer 25, Shay Ness 23, Alex Klever 11, Caleb Hirschkorn 7, Rory Gentzkow 3. Totals: 27-49 FG, 4-16 3-pointers (Kramer 2, Klever, Gentzkow), 11-16 FT, 15 Fouls, 24 Rebounds (Klever 6), 10 Turnovers

OAK—Steele Hansen 15, Max Muggli 14, Drew Dethlefsen 8, Alex Muggli 7, Ashton Biesterfeld 6, Dalton Schmit 5, Dalton Nelson 2. Totals: 22-51 FG, 1-9 3-pointers (Schmit), 12-16 FT, 18 Fouls (Hansen), 31 Rebounds (Hansen 6), 18 Turnovers.

Records: LLM 14-3, 6-0 District 5. OAK 6-9, 1-5.

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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