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Westminster 2nd, Harvest 5th at NAC tourney
By Allen Oshinski | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/9/2013 9:57 PM

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ROCKFORD — Westminster Christian boys basketball coach Bruce Firchau couldn’t fault his team’s effort, but his Warriors simply had no answer for Makur Puou.

Mooseheart’s 6-foot-10 junior was a beast, scoring 32 points and grabbing 9 rebounds to lead the Ramblers past Westminster 55-31 Saturday to win the Northeastern Athletic Conference tournament hosted by Rockford Christian Life.

Colin Brandon scored 14 points for Westminster (16-11), which saw its 9-game winning streak snapped.

Will Woodhouse and Sam Carani scored 7 points apiece for Westminster Christian. Robert Kleczynski grabbed 6 rebounds.

At one point Puou scored 21 straight points for Mooseheart (20-5), including all 15 in the third quarter.

“I’m pleased how our kids played,” said Firchau. “It was a good tournament for us.”

Mooseheart jumped ahead 21-8 as Mangisto Deng, who finished with 13 points, nailed 3 early 3-pointers. The Warriors never recovered.

“(Deng) hits those 3 threes. We had some that go in and out,” Firchau said. “If you could just get us to make a couple and have them miss a couple, maybe our confidence is up even more, but I don’t have an answer for (Puou). I didn’t have an answer today anyway.”

“He’s the real deal,” said Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens. “He plays hard, he’s really easy to coach and he hustles all the time.”

After Deng’s last 3-pointer, Puou took over, scoring the Ramblers’ last 4 points of the first half before dominating the third quarter.

Led by Puou and 7-foot-1 Akim Nyang, Mooseheart outrebounded the Warriors 29-14.

“We’re playing good defense,” said Ahrens. “We’re long and we’re playing different styles of defense well.”

The Ramblers switched to a man-to-man after playing zone for most of the tournament. They shut out the Warriors in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors still had a good run in the tournament. They defeated Randall Road rival Harvest Christian, then beat top-seeded Christian Life 63-43 Saturday afternoon to advance to the title game

Harvest Christian takes 5th: The Lions (16-8) beat Christian Liberty 38-33 and IMSA 42-34 to finish in fifth place at the NAC tournament. Stuart Wolff had 15 points and Dan Turpin added 14 points and 8 rebounds to lead Harvest against Christian Liberty. Wolff had 12 points and 8 rebounds and Noah Fox added 11 points in the win over IMSA.