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Mayo boys tough on defense

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL

AUSTIN — Rochester Mayo closed the first half on a 10-point run and went on to beat Austin 49-36 on Friday night at Ove Berven Gym.

The Mayo Spartans played stingy defense in the first half of this Big Nine Conference boys basketball game, and they held the Packers to only 14 points. The Spartans held a 17-point lead at halftime and withstood a second half rally to improve to 7-4 in conference play.

Lucas Kuipers, the center for the Spartans, was too much for the Packers defense to handle. Kuipers led the way to victory with a game-high 19 points. He also had 10 rebounds and a trio of blocked shots.

Jordan Hicks had a big first half to spark the Spartans to their double-digit lead. Hicks netted 12 of his 13 points in the first half. Sharmarke Hamud hit the only 3-pointer of the night for the Spartans.

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Kuipers completed the 10-0 run at the end of the first half with a tip-in right before the buzzer.

"During that run we played solid defense and it was a great way to close the first half," Mayo coach Shaun Lang said. "Our hard defensive effort set the tone. We knew they would press and make a run in the second half, but we hung in there."

Despite scoring only five points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, the Spartans held their lead. The Packers closed to within seven points a couple of times, but they failed at the free throw line.

Austin was 7-of-20 at the stripe, while Mayo went 10-for-16 at the free throw line. Kuipers went 9-for-12 at the line, including making his last six attempts in the final five minutes.

"As long as Lucas can catch the ball close to the block, he’s tough to stop," Lang said. "Our big guys frustrated them and Lucas came threw with those free throws down the stretch."

Mayo (10-8 overall) plays Mankato East at home on Tuesday night.

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