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Torrid outside shooting carries Somerset boys basketball past B-W

Somerset guard Tyler Ledbeter (23) slashes between a pair of Baldwin-Woodville defenders as he drives to the rim in last Thursday's 60-35 win.

By draining 11-23 three-point shots and playing a hounding defense, the Somerset boys basketball team was able to pull away from Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday, 60-35.

The victory keeps Somerset deadlocked with Durand at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings, with each team locked at one loss in conference play.

Baldwin-Woodville strikes fear into the hearts of opponents based largely on the play of the Blackhawks' exceptional guard, Logan Weyer. Weyer was the key focus of the Spartan defense in the first quarter, with the Spartans getting through the quarter with a 10-9 lead.

That would be the last Weyer would play that night. Somerset coach Brent Larson said Weyer began to experience concussion symptoms from a recent injury he suffered against Durand and the B-W coaches held him out of the rest of Thursday's game.

With Weyer out of the lineup, the Blackhawks were susceptible to Somerset's full-court pressure. Weyer's absence was also noticeable on defense. The Blackhawks couldn't stay with Somerset's outside shooters and the Spartans took full advantage of the opportunity. The Spartans scored 22 points in the second quarter to lead 33-21 at halftime.

Spartan junior guard Jack Emmert was on fire in the second quarter, scoring 14 points.

Emmert and classmate Gaelin Elmore led an incredible outside shooting display in Thursday's game. The Spartans were 11-23 from three-point range, a 47 percent success rate. Elmore knocked down 5-7 three-point attempts and Emmert made four of his three-point shots. Elmore led the Spartans with 23 points in the game and Emmert finished with 19 points. Elmore also led the Spartans with eight rebounds.

The Spartans had an effective defensive plan to face the Blackhawks. B-W played a 1-4 offense that gave Weyer independence to look for scoring or passing opportunities off the dribble drive. Senior Tyler Ledbeter hounded Weyer whenever he had the ball. Whenever Weyer turned to penetrate the Spartan defense, more Somerset defenders would jump out to double-team him before he could get near the basket.

Win at Central

The Spartans hit three-point shots on their first three possessions in their game at St. Croix Central last Tuesday as part of the Spartans' 58-31 win.

It wasn't that easy for the Spartans the rest of the way. The young Central team was scrappy, trailing the Spartans 17-14 after the first quarter. Somerset began inching away and by halftime the lead was 30-19. After the Spartans hit three-pointers to open the game, Coach Brent Larson had the team concentrate on getting shots closer to the hoop.

"When a (defensive) team is in a zone, it's easy to settle for a three. We have to get into the teeth of the zone and get some post touches," Larson said.

After the hot start, the Spartans didn't have a particularly good shooting night, making 22-61 attempts (36 percent). Elmore was the exception. He made 11-23 shots to finish with 24 points. Ledbeter was also in double figures, scoring 11 points, which including a 5-5 night from the free throw line.

Elmore and Ledbeter also shared the team lead in rebounds with six. Emmert's four steals were tops on the team. The Spartans limited their turnovers in the game to seven, while Central committed 25 turnovers.

The Spartans are in a pressurized schedule as they try to nail down the conference championship. Somerset plays at home this Friday against New Richmond, before playing at Osceola next Tuesday.

"Every game is a big game from here on out," Coach Larson said. "These guys are pretty good about working hard in practice each day to get better. I like their mentality. They're pretty level headed."