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Somerset boys basketball faces team from correctional school

Somerset senior guard Tyler Ledbeter (23) drives to the basket during the Spartans' season-opening win over St. Croix Falls.

The Somerset boys basketball team had a unique experience last Thursday, facing the varsity team from the Lincoln Hills Correctional Institute.

The Spartans were able to control the game from the opening tap, rolling to a 33-6 lead by halftime. The game ended with Somerset winning 54-23 for the Spartans' second win of the season.

Lincoln Hills doesn't have a home facility so they travel around the state looking for games. Lincoln Hills is one of two boys-only correctional facilities in the state. The school is located north of Wausau. Lincoln Hills is a facility for 265 boys grades 6-12.

Lincoln Hills plays an independent schedule and has been competitive in most of its games, including a 20-point win over Butternut two nights before facing the Spartans.

Somerset coach Brent Larson talked with the Lincoln Hills coach, learning that the team is in a constant state of flux as boys enter and depart the facility. On the court, the Lincoln Hills team appeared just like any other team.

"Their kids played hard and were well behaved," Larson said.

The Spartans struggled to find their shooting touch in the first quarter, just as they'd done in their opening game. They led 7-4 after the opening quarter.

Just like the win over St. Croix Falls, the Spartan offense hit full speed in the second quarter. Somerset outscored Lincoln Hills 26-2 in the quarter to lead 33-6 at halftime.

Knowing there was a possibility the game could be one-sided, Larson had his players focus on several fundamental skills in this game. One point of emphasis was taking better care of the ball. Progress was shown there as the Spartans brought their turnover total down to 13 for the game.

Another area the coaches emphasized was rebounding.

"We wanted all five guys boxing out, boxing out as a team," Larson said.

This was another game where the Spartan bench players saw extensive game time. Most of the starters played less than four minutes of the second half.

Senior Matt Skoglund, the team's first reserve off the bench, led the team with 13 points.

"I love his defense," Larson said of Skoglund. "He plays with good energy."

Reggie Larson finished with 10 points and Gaelin Elmore scored eight points. Jack Emmert led the team with five assists and four steals.

Coach Larson said the Spartan reserves did a much better job taking care of the ball in this game, compared to the play in the fourth quarter against St. Croix Falls, which got quite ragged. He said junior guard Zach Waalen was one who improved in that area and that he also impressed the coaches with his defensive play.

The Spartans have two home games scheduled in the next few days. The Spartans will host Prescott on Friday in a Middle Border Conference game. The Spartans will face another new opponent next Tuesday. They will host Tartan High School from Oakdale, Minn.