At the end of a long, difficult day Moosehearts boys basketball team got to do what it likes to do play basketball.
And the joy amongst the Ramblers players, coaches and fans was evident from the opening moments through the final buzzer in a 53-21 victory over Westminster Christian.
The Ramblers played three hours after learning that a Temporary Restraining Order halted the IHSA-imposed suspensions of three team members Makur Puou, Mangisto Deng and Akim Nyang. All three played in the contest.
It was a very, very good feeling, Puou said. It felt good to come back and play. We had a lot of good passes and we played very hard. We enjoyed and we had fun just playing the game.
The IHSA issued the suspensions last week, claiming Mooseheart had violated the organizations rules on recruiting. Tuesdays game was the first the three players would have missed. The team was informed of the Temporary Restraining Order at 4:15 p.m., and the news was met with a loud cheer.
I think they really appreciated being out there on the floor tonight, Mooseheart boys basketball coach Ron Ahrens said. We talked about that in the locker room. You need to appreciate the fact that we got to go out and play.
Puou led all scorers with 16 points, including 12 in a dominant first quarter by the Ramblers. Westminster Christian attempted to play a slow-down game, but Mooseheart still scored the first 14 points and led by double-digits the rest of the way.
Their coach (Bruce Firchau) is a very smart coach, Puou said. They tried to slow it down and thats why we had to go outside then and hit (shots).
The tactic was not a complete surprise to the Ramblers (3-2), who benefited from a series of Westminster Christian turnovers in that first quarter which ended with Mooseheart leading 21-3.
Were expecting more of that to happen all the time, Ahrens said. Its just because were so tall and teams are going to do things to slow the ball down so they get some quality shots. That didnt happen for them, but we expect that to happen more and more.
By halftime, the lead had grown to 31-5.
Mooseheart returns to action on Wednesday with a 7:15 p.m. contest at Hinckley-Big Rock. Darryl Mellema