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Somerset junior Gaelin Elmore (20) nails a three-pointer in the first half of the Spartans' win over Ellsworth last Thursday.

Somerset boys to face Durand for MBC basketball championship

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The showdown is set.

The Somerset and Durand boys basketball teams will meet in Somerset on Friday to determine the 2012-13 Middle Border Conference championship.

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Heading into Tuesday's games, Somerset and Durand were tied at the top of the MBC standings with 11-1 records. Somerset moved into a tie with Durand by winning at Prescott 46-42 on Monday night. This is Somerset's first win at Prescott since Feb. 10, 2005. Somerset and Durand both won on Tuesday, sealing Friday's showdown.

It took an all-out effort to break Prescott's hex on the Spartans. Somerset had the lead for much of the game, but Prescott kept finding ways to get back in contention. The Spartans led 21-12 in the second quarter, but that would be their biggest advantage of the night.

Prescott tied the score at 42-42 with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The score stayed there for nearly two minutes. Somerset was then able to get the ball into Gaelin Elmore in the low post. Elmore scored with 1:15 left on the clock. Luke Praschak added two free throws with 23 seconds left to extend the final margin to four points.

Elmore led the Spartans with 17 points and five rebounds in the win. Tyler Ledbeter produced 12 points and four assists and Jack Emmert contributed 12 points.

Electric offense

The Spartan offense certainly looked playoff ready last week, churning out 60, 73 and 81 points in three wins. The Spartans started the week with a 60-46 win at Osceola last Tuesday. That was followed by a 73-48 roasting of Ellsworth on Thursday. The Spartans went to the Twin Cities to face a respected Totino-Grace program on Saturday. Somerset came away with an 81-75 victory.

In all three games the Spartans received exceptional outside shooting from Emmert. Emmert scored a career-high 29 points at Totino-Grace and that wasn't his best shooting night of the week. That occurred Thursday, when he went 8-10 from the three-point arc to score 26 points against Ellsworth. The eight three-pointers is believed to be a school record, breaking the record of seven set by Danny Sheridan last season.

Emmert also was the Spartans' offensive ace at Osceola, finishing with 24 points and seven assists.

Spartan coach Brent Larson said Emmert is playing well defensively too. He said Emmert's work against the Totino-Grace point guard was one of the key factors in Saturday's win.

"He's playing with a lot of confidence, especially shooting the ball," Larson said.

Larson said playing at Totino-Grace was a good experience for several reasons. Minnesota schools play two 18-minute halves, so the game tested the Spartans' durability. Minnesota also plays a more physical style, which helped the Spartans get ready for the upcoming WIAA playoffs.

The Spartans bombarded Ellsworth last Thursday, scoring 44 points in the first half. Ellsworth couldn't find any defense that would stop Emmert or Elmore, as they combined for 46 points.

Osceola gave the Spartans a capable battle last Tuesday. Somerset led 36-21 at halftime, but the Chieftains never let the Spartans pull away.

Seeding

The Spartans received the second seed in the WIAA Division 3 tournament bracketing done over the weekend. Barron, which defeated the Spartans on Jan. 8, received the top seed in the bracket.

By getting the second seed, Somerset gets a bye in the opening round of tournament play next Tuesday. The Spartans will play at home in their first tournament game on Thursday, Feb. 19. They will face the winner of next Tuesday's opening round game between Spooner and Ladysmith.

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