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JHS looks to claim WDA title

Jamestown's Tyler Burnham (25) goes up for two past Caden Johnson (30) of Minot on Feb. 8 at Jerry Meyer Arena. Looking on in the back is Easton Larson of Minot. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Jamestown High School already has a share of the West Region boys basketball regular-season title. If the Blue Jays win today at Bismarck Legacy, they'll be the No. 1-seeded team outright with three game remaining.

But Jamestown still has plenty for which left to play.

If the Blue Jays win their last four games, they'd be the third team in the West Region to go undefeated in the regular season since 2004. Bismarck Century completed the task in 2015-16, and Bismarck went unbeaten in 2004.

"We still want to be playing our best basketball going into the WDA tournament, so we have a lot to focus on," said Jamestown coach Jacoby Lloyd. "We can't relax and hope we can fall into the first-place spot.

"We're going to make sure we're doing the right things at the right time and continuously improve. Even though we're playing pretty well, we still want to get better."

Going undefeated in the regular season doesn't mean it'll be a slam dunk to for the Jays to win their first Class A state boys basketball title since 1993. The Patriots lost to Minot in the WDA title game 82-69 back in 2016, and lost to West Fargo in overtime 67-65 in the opening round of state.

Even though Jamestown basically has the WDA title locked up, coach Lloyd said reduced minutes for his main rotation probably won't happen.

"We'll have to see how those games go, but we're always trying to build depth and trying to stay fresh for the WDA tournament," Lloyd said. "The nice thing about the WDA tournament is that it's 11 days after our last game, so we have a healthy little break to rest our bodies."

The Blue Jays have won all 17 games by an average margin of 26 points and have only kept their main starters in for five entire contests. Because of the 12 games where the starters sat out some of the second half, it has kept Jamestown fresh throughout the winter.

"We've had some games this year where we've had reduced minutes because we've gotten big enough leads," Lloyd said. "Everybody has to get out on the court and play hard.

"Obviously not maxing out our minutes is a big thing. We want to stay as fresh as possible."

The Blue Jays defeated the Sabers 83-51 on Dec. 11 at Jerry Meyer Arena. Boden Skunberg scored a game-high 25 points in the win, while Mason Walters recorded a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards.

"Legacy is a good team that's taken a lot of the top teams to the wire," Lloyd said. "They're a really young roster with a lot of sophomores right now and they play very hard.

"Being on the road at Legacy is going to be tough one for us. Their crowd is going to be into the game and their student section will be there."

Notes

--Jacob Hilgemann returned to the lineup Friday against Minot for the first time since hurting his ankle in practice. The sophomore scored 9 points on a perfect 3 of 3 from the field during the 90-61 victory.

"Jacob did a good job of attacking when the spaces were there, and catching and shooting when he was open," Lloyd said. "The play that impressed me the most was in the first half when he got his hands and feet ready to shoot and they found him in the corner wide open."

--Jamestown recorded a season-high 27 assists in the victory over Minot. The previous total was 21 on Dec. 15 against Bismarck St. Mary's.

Jared Kallenbach's 8 assists on Friday was a new team-high individually. Kallenbach and Lunzman each previously had a team-best 7 assists.

"That just shows that we were willing to share the basketball and make plays for our teammates," Lloyd said. "That's one of my goals going forward is to work together as a team."

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853