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College men's basketball: Brown, Bluejays rout A-R

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- Alex Brown said Wednesday's win was much needed. Not only did Brown and the Minnesota West men's basketball team earn a victory over Anoka-Ramsey, but it did so in dominating fashion. "From what I was told,...

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Minnesota West Blue Jay DeShawn Pickford (3) takes the high road past Anoka-Ramsey's Jackson Odegard. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Alex Brown said Wednesday’s win was much needed.

Not only did Brown and the Minnesota West men’s basketball team earn a victory over Anoka-Ramsey, but it did so in dominating fashion.

“From what I was told, they are the best team in the conference record-wise. So it’s definitely a statement win. We needed that, especially after we had to forfeit those last two,” Brown said. “We definitely had to win this game. We still have to play them again. We know there is a long way to go, but this was a step in the right direction.”

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The Bluejays used a 16-2 run in the first half and a 10-0 run in the second to earn an 87-67 victory over the Rams.

“That was the best game we played all year,” Brown said. “Defensively we were on our assignments and offensively we moved the ball. So that was the best game.”

Anoka-Ramsey entered the game with a perfect 4-0 record in the Southern Division.

“This is a great win, especially being a top two team,” MW assistant coach Taylor Lupton said. “We are still vying for a top four spot. It’s always nice beating those guys who are already in it.”

Brown finished with a game-high 26 points as five players scored in double figures for West.

“I just did what I felt I had to do to help us win. I really don’t care about the points. I honestly just want to have a chance to go to Nationals, that’s all I really care about,” Brown said. “It’s going to take more than one player, it’s going to take more than two players. It’s going to take a collective team effort.”

Brown’s biggest contribution to West may have been on the defensive end. He was matched up against Anoka-Ramsey’s top scorer, Kevin Schramm, who averages 18.5 points per game. He eclipsed that in the first half with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. In the second half, Schramm was held to 1-of-3 shooting for two points.

“That was my defensive assignment, so the first half, 20 points was humbling,” Brown said. “It was a humbling experience. My coach told me, ‘If you focus on him the second half, we’re going to have a good chance of winning.’ I did not worry about anybody else in the second half. Coach came up to me and told me he only scored two in the second half, so that felt great.”

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West broke the game open midway through the first half. Tyrone Walker, Brown and Kuol Chol made consecutive 3s before Chol converted a three-point play and Alex Preston made a triple. In the game, the Bluejays were 14 for 27 shooting from 3 and shot 45 percent from the field.

“We had good shot selection,” Lupton said. “For most of the game, most of our shots were good choices, besides a handful. Bad shots equal not making shots.”

Brown capped the 16-2 run with a free throw as MW led 30-18.

“We played good as a team. It was a team effort. We wanted to keep on pushing to the end,” MW’s DeShawn Pickford said. “It was team chemistry. In practice, day and night, hard work pays off. That showed in the game.”

Schramm made two 3s to close the half as the Rams were within six at the break. Out of halftime, A-R cut the lead to three points as Schramm made a shot with 16:02 remaining.

The Rams hung around and with 11:53 showing on the clock, trailed 60-54.

Preston (eight points) answered with a 3 and made another shot before Brown sank a triple. Ki’Shawn Syph scored on a drive as a 10-0 run gave West a 16-point lead.

“It was moving the ball and being patient with our offense,” Brown said. “It’s the time of the year where it’s muscle memory now. We just kept moving the ball and trusting our teammates, that’s another thing coach had on the whiteboard was trusting your teammates. That’s what we did.”

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The Bluejays led by as many as 23 (87-64) after a 3 from Walker.

“We just come together as one because we are a team and keep each other accountable at the end. We just go hard in practice and it shows in the games. We just have to prepare for other teams that come our way,” Pickford said. “It was a team effort. We just worry about the next game now, keep on moving forward and try to get to the tournament.”

The Rams had a height advantage inside, with three players at 6-foot-6 or taller. However, MW out rebounded them 44-38 in the game. West had eight turnovers in the game.

“We were outsized, so being even on the rebounds was huge for us,” Brown said. “I don’t know what the end of the game was, but at halftime we were even on the boards, that was huge for us. Staying true to our defensive assignments and moving the ball offensively, those were the two main things that we tried to focus on before the game and in practice this week.”

Walker scored 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Chol finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Syph had 12 points. Pickford scored 12 points to go with nine assists and eight rebounds.

“Jeff (Hudson) and DeShawn, I put them up there with the top guards in the conference,” Lupton said. “Those guys not only want to score, they want to get rebounds. They want to do it all. They are like little big men.”

Anoka-Ramsey 38 67

Bluejays 44 87

ANOKA-RAMSEY (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Castro 0-1-0-2, El-Amin 3-0-0-9, Lloyd 1-0-0-3, Morgan 0-3-0-6, Odegard 1-1-0-5, Jones 3-1-2-13, Schramm 4-5-0-22, Linear 1-2-0-7. Totals 13-13-2-67.

BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Chol 2-3-1-13, Pickford 1-2-5-12, Preston 2-1-0-8, Brown 5-5-1-26, Syph 2-3-0-12, Walker 2-5-0-16. Totals 14-19-7-87.

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Minnesota West men's basketball player Alex Brown comes in hot to deliver a shot in a game with Anoka-Ramsey Wednesday. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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