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Spartans end season with win

Feb. 24, 2014

JJ Morris led a balanced Spartan attack with 25 points, including six for eight from three as the Spartan men's basketball team finished the season with a 83-76 win over host Ridgewater College in Willmar.

The first half saw 10 lead changes and five ties as neither team was able to take control. The biggest lead of the half was a mere four points, 25-21, with 6:59 remaining. The Vikings went on a brief 6-0 spurt to take a 27-25 lead with 4:11 to go on back-to-back Mowlid Mohamud threes.

The Spartans regained the lead and went into halftime with a 35-33 margin. Devin Pokorney and Morris each scored eight to lead the way in the first half. The Spartans came out of the locker-room and scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half to up the margin to eight, 43-35, with 16:10 remaining. The teams traded baskets, keeping the lead between six and eight points over the next two minutes before the Spartans slowly upped the lead to a high of 14, 64-50, on a Gavin Dettwiler dunk with just under 10 minutes remaining.

A Beau Herrig turnaround jumper started a 10-0 Ridgewater run over a 3:00 stretch that finished on another Herrig basket, closing the gap to 64-60 with 6:50 to go. A 7-0 run capped by a Lee Gaines jumper from the elbow pushed the lead back to 11 with 3:47 remaining. The Vikings would get no closer than five the rest of the way as the Spartans held off their final attempts.

Morris also grabbed five rebounds and had five assists and two steals to lead the way. Gaines played a solid game with 20 points, 16 in the second half, while gabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots. Pokorney added 10 points total, while Cole Riley scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.

Saturday's game was the final time that five sophomores would take the court for M State, as the Spartan family said goodbye to Dettwiler, Riley, Pokorney, Derek Cofield and Luke Halbakken. The Spartans finished 13-14 on the season and 5-9 in MCAC play.


Spartans rally from 24 down, fall in OT

Feb. 21, 2014

The M State men's basketball team fell behind by 24 points in the first half and trailed by 22 (49-27) at halftime but then outscored St. Cloud Technical & Community College 58-36 over the final 20 minutes to tie the game and force overtime before losing 96-94.

The Spartans shot just 27 percent (8/30) from the field in the first half but picked up the pace in the second half, hitting 60 percent (21/35) of their second-half shots and winding up at 45 percent (33/73) for the game. M State had a balanced scoring attack with five players reaching double figures. The Spartans were led by JJ Morris with 25 points and Ja'Vonte Johnson with 17 points. Luke Halbakken (14), Devin Pokorney (11) and Cole Riley (10) were also in double figures. Johnson also dished out a team-high nine assists. Gavin Dettwiler blocked three shots, and Thomas Ford led the Spartans with six rebounds.

St. Cloud Tech was led by Riley West with 21 points and Scott Nystrom with 18. Felipe Villalaz had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocked shots). St. Cloud Tech shot 49 percent (32/65) from the field and made 26 of 36 free throws (72 percent). Tech held a 48-36 edge on the boards.

The Cyclones (22-4, 10-3 South) are currently ranked fourth in the NJCAA Division III national poll.

M State (12-14, 4-9 South) will close out its season with a game at Ridgewater Community College in Willmar on Saturday.


Spartans snap two-game skid

Feb. 15, 2014

Devin Pokorney scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed a career- and game-high eight rebounds off the bench to lead the M State Spartan basketball team to a 93-87 win over the Blue Devils of Riverland Community College.

The first half was a back-and-forth effort as neither team was able to secure more than an eight-point lead at any time. The teams went basket-for-basket until an 8-1 run over 1:46 gave the Spartans a 35-29 lead with 5:46 to go in the first half. The Blue Devils fought back, getting to within one at 38-37 on an Andrew Lau basket with 2:36 to go. The Spartans responded with a quick 7-0 run of their own to end the half at 45-37.

The lead stayed between five and 10 points for the first nine minutes of the second half before M State slowly extended the lead. It reached a high of 15 at 72-57 with 7:38 to go in the game. Riverland chipped away at the lead as their pressure seem to slow down the Spartan attack and caused a few turnovers. The Blue Devils got as close as five at 91-86 with 18 seconds remaining in the game. Free-throws capped off the scoring, giving the home team the six-point win.

For the game, both teams shot the ball well, as the Spartans shot 55 percent from the field, including 9-22 (41 percent) from three. They were also 20-26 from the line for 77 percent. The Blue Devils shot 52 percent from the field but struggled from three, going 5-16. They also hit on 16-24 (67 percent) from the line. M State won the battle on the boards 34-33, while dishing out 25 assists on 32 baskets.

Along with Pokorney, JJ Morris scored 19 points with three rebounds and three assists, while Luke Halbakken made his return from injury after missing four games to score 14 points in 15 minutes. Gavin Dettwiler led the team with six assists and three blocks. Leading the way for Riverland was Lau with 30 points.

M State improves to 12-13 on the season and 4-8 in MCAC South play. The Spartans will host second-place St. Cloud Technical & Community College (21-4, 9-3 MCAC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. This is a time change due to SCTCC not fielding a women's team.


Anoka-Ramsey rallies past Spartans

Feb. 5, 2014

Anoka-Ramsey Community College used a 10-0 run in the second half to turn a 61-56 deficit into a 66-61 lead en route to a 96-86 win on Wednesday evening in Fergus Falls. With the loss, M State fell two games back of the fourth playoff spot.

The Spartans jumped out early, using hot shooting and tight defense to gain an advantage. The biggest lead of the night came courtesy of a 19-6 advantage with just over 16:00 to go in the first half. The Golden Rams rallied a number of times in the half to tie the game or briefly take the lead before a final M State spurt pushed the halftime score to 46-39. In the first half M State shot 52 percent from the field, including 6-15 from three and 8-11 from the line. They were able to hold Anoka-Ramsey to 31 percent shooting, including 2-12 from three. Ja'Vonte Johnson and JJ Morris each scored 13 to lead the Spartans in the first half.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair with the Spartans holding a five to eight point lead for the first 12 minutes or so of the half. After the 10-0 run, Anoka pushed the lead to 69-63 before a technical foul allowed the Spartans to score five unanswered points on Morris' free throws and a three-point make, making it 69-68, Golden Rams.

The Spartans missed out on two chances to take the lead before Anoka-Ramsey stretched the lead to eight on back-to-back Trent Pollard threes, 75-68. Free throws would help Anoka-Ramsey reach its final 10-point margin.

For the game, the Spartans shot 46 percent from the field and hit 24-33 from the charity stripe. The Golden Rams shot 42 percent overall, including 54 percent in the second half, and hit on nine of 23 three-point attempts. They also hit 23-31 from the line. Anoka-Ramsey won the boards by a 55-33 margin, including 20-4 on the offensive end. The Spartans did manage 17 assists and only seven turnovers.

Johnson led the way with 28 points on 7-13 shooting, adding 12-15 from the free-throw line. He also added 11 assists. Morris scored 23 on the night with four rebounds and three assists. Lee Gaines was the final double-digit scorer with 17 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Leading the way for the Golden Rams was Lemuel Doe with 30 points and 12 rebounds.

The Spartans fell to 11-11 on the season and 3-6 in MCAC play. They will travel to Lacrosse, Wis., on Saturday for a matchup with Western Wisconsin Tech at 3 p.m.


Spartans win wild game

Feb. 1, 2014

In a game that featured 13 lead changes and 10 ties, the M State Spartan basketball team pulled out a 76-73 MCAC South win versus the Blue Jays of Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

In the first half, neither team was able to take a commanding lead. The lead for the Spartans peaked at four points, while the Blue Jays were able to use a 7-0 run over 3:56 to take their biggest lead, 34-26, with 3:42 to go. However, the Spartans responded with a 13-2 run of their own, fueled by eight points from Devin Pokorney off the bench, to lead 39-36 with 1:01 to go in the half. Minnesota West scored the final four points of the half to lead 40-39 at the break.

Pokorney scored 10 of his 13 total points in the first half, while Jordan Thomas led the way for the Blue Jays, scoring 13 of his 18. The Spartans shot 45 percent from the field, including 8-19 from three, and hit five of six free throws. The Blue Jays shot 40 percent overall and only four of 12 from three.

M State took the lead on the first possession of the second half with a Lee Gaines field goal off a Thomas Ford offensive rebound and assist, 41-40. The Spartans kept the lead between three and five points until a Larry Bell field goal tied the game at 61 with 7:49 to go. After a stop, Minnesota West took their first lead of the half with a Jordan Seitzinger free throw.

The last lead for the Blue Jays was at 71-70 with 1:24 remaining in the game. Another Gaines field goal pushed M State ahead for good, 72-71. The lead was pushed to five before JaPree Murray hit a layup to get to the final three-point spread.

For the Spartans, Ja'Vonte Johnson and JJ Morris each scored 21. Johnson went six for 11 from the field with four threes, Morris hit seven of 18 with five threes. Johnson added six assists and four rebounds to his scoring. Morris added four rebounds and three steals. Pokorney finished with 13 points, including three from beyond the arc. Gaines finished with 12 points and six rebounds, while Gavin Dettwiler scored four points to go with five rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Thomas Ford led the way with 14 rebounds on the day. Thomas led Minnesota West with 18.

With the win, the Spartans are now 11-10 on the year and 3-5 in MCAC play. They sit a game behind Anoka Ramsey, who they host at 8 p.m.Wednesday, Feb. 5.


Spartans get past Ridgewater

Jan. 29, 2014

Thomas Ford led four M State players in double-figure scoring with a monster game of 13 points and 16 rebounds in an 80-75 home win over the Ridgewater College Vikings.

The first half was back and forth from the start as both teams tried to establish control. The teams came out firing from the tip as 30 points were scored in the first 5:00 combined before a slower pace was established. A 9-0 Viking run over 2:23 gave Ridgewater a 16-11 lead with 15:21 to go in the half. M State managed to tie the game at 18 with 12:28 to go on a Ford field goal.

It was back and forth over the next three minutes. With Ridgewater leading 26-20, the Spartans ramped up the defense and went on a 15-0 run that culminated with them leading 35-26 with 2:41 to go. The halftime score was 37-33. Both teams shot 41 percent from the field, while Ridgewater hit 5-11 from three and shot zero free-throws. M State controlled the boards 29-17.

Ridgewater used a 12-5 spurt over 4:30 to take their biggest lead of the second half at 50-46 with 13:16 remaining in the game. The Spartans responded out of a timeout with a 15-2 run over 5:56 to take the lead for good and control of the game 60-52 with 7:20 to go. The deficit was cut to as low as two before the final five-point difference was met.

For the game M State shot 46 percent, including 52 percent in the second half. The Spartans also won the battle on the boards 52-37, including 20 offensive rebounds. They also recorded 25 assists on 32 baskets. The Vikings shot 42 percent overall, including 6-16 from three.

Ja'vonte Johnson added 19 in the winning effort, as well as seven assists and four rebounds. Lee Gaines also added 19 with four rebounds and two blocks. JJ Morris scored 17 with seven assists and four rebounds. Gavin Dettwiler was huge off the bench, getting 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.

The Spartans improved to 10-10 on the season and 2-5 in MCAC South play. They are currently a game behind Anoka Ramsey and Western Tech for the fourth playoff spot. They play host to Minnesota West on Saturday to kick off the second round of conference play at 3 p.m.


Comeback falls short at 2nd-ranked St. Cloud Tech

Jan. 25, 2014

Four Spartans scored in double figures in a game that saw a furious M State rally from 17 down in the second half fall just short, 64-66, to St. Cloud Technical and Community College, the second-ranked team in the nation.

In the first half both teams struggled to find any rhythm shooting as M State shot just 24 percent while St. Cloud Tech hit 41 percent of its shots. The teams combined to go 5-19 from three and only 3-9 from the free-throw line. The Cyclones used a 15-1 run early in the game to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 17-5 lead with around 13:00 to go in the first half. The Spartans responded out of timeout with a 10-2 run of their own, closing to 19-15. However, St. Cloud Tech ended the half up 31-23. In the first half, Thomas Ford was huge with six points and nine rebounds to keep M State within striking distance.

M State held St. Cloud Tech scoreless for the first 4:02 of the second half but managed to cut only four points off the lead. Two Jared Noonan free throws gave the Cyclones a 33-27 lead with 15:58 to go. The freebies would jumpstart a 13-2 run that ended with St. Cloud Tech seemingly taking control of the game at 46-29 with under 10 minutes to go.

However, the Spartans started to chip away at the lead with their defense and passing taking the front. The stops started to add up, and the Spartan guards started to drive and find an open man as the lead closed to two points at 64-62 with 1:10 to go. The lead was 65-62 when a three-point shot by Ja'Vonte Johnson was just off the mark. St. Cloud Tech added a point on split free throws by Riley West and sealed it after an M State foul following a layup by Johnson cut it to 65-64 with 1.6 remaining.

For the game, JJ Morris led a balanced attack with 15 points and a season-high eight rebounds. Ford added a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, including seven offensive. Johnson added 10 points, all in the second half, and Cole Riley was huge off the bench with 10 points and 8 rebounds. For St. Cloud Tech it was Scott Nystrom with 14 on 6-11 shooting.

The Spartans host Ridgewater College on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. The game marks the finale of the first round of MCAC South play.


Spartans snap losing skid

Jan. 22, 2014

JJ Morris topped the 30 mark for a second time this season, pouring in a game-high 33 points and hitting 7-12 from three and 6-7 from the free throw line to lead the M State Spartans to an 80-72 win over the Riverland Community College Blue Devils.

The hosts jumped on the Spartans quickly, scoring the first six points of the game on the way to a 10-4 lead. The Spartans proceeded to outscore the Blue Devils 23-6 over the next seven minutes to take control of the game, 27-16. Riverland cut into the lead a bit before the half, settling for a 31-25 deficit. Neither team shot the ball well in the first half, combining to go 21-70 from the field and 6-25 from three.

A 10-2 Spartan run over the first 2:30 of the second half, capped by a Thomas Ford layup, expanded the lead to 12 at 39-27. The teams traded baskets over the next six minutes before the Spartans took their biggest lead of the game, 55-38, with 11:44 to go.

The Blue Devils began to turn up the pressure on the Spartans with some success, forcing four turnovers in five possessions and cutting the lead to 64-58 with 5:24 to go. However, they did not close the gap any further, and M State hit their free throws down the stretch to get the final eight-point margin.

Luke Halbakken was the other double-digit scorer for M State with 10 points, including 6-6 from the line. He also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. Gavin Dettwiler proved to be a defensive spark with a team-high six blocks as well as three assists.

The win snapped a four-game skid and brought the Spartans to a game back of the playoff spots up for grabs.


Yellowjackets hand Spartans fourth straight loss

Jan. 18, 2014

Jumarhi Turner and Rico Gunn led five Rochester Community and Technical College players in double figures with 20 points each as the Yellowjackets handed the M State Spartan's men's basketball team its fourth straight loss, 100-65.

M State started the game in a quick flurry, leading for the biggest part of the first half until a three-point basket tied the game at 30 apiece and Rochester took a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Rochester led at the half by a 46-33 margin. For the first half, RCTC shot 47 percent, while the Spartans shot 43 percent. The teams combined to shoot 4-15 from three.

Rochester started the second half on an 8-0 run over the first 1:30, scoring its points off M State turnovers to expand the lead to 54-33. Out of a timeout, the Spartans would make a mini run to get the lead back under 20 before Rochester was able to take control and up the lead to as much as 38 before the final 35-point margin.

Leading the way for the Spartans was JJ Morris with 17 points, while Ja'Vonte Johnson added 13 points and four assists. Luke Halbakken had a solid game with 10 points and 9 rebounds. The Spartans shot 35 percent from the field and hit on 19 of 29 free throw attempts.

"I felt like we did some nice things, despite the score. We got off to a quick start but couldn't quite sustain it. If we can learn to play at a consistent level for 40 minutes, we will be a team to be reckoned with the rest of the season," said Coach Brandon Colvin.

M State dropped to 8-9 for the season and 0-4 in MCAC South play. The Spartans will look to break the streak on Wednesday when they visit Rainy River Community College for an 8 p.m. start.


Spartans drop third straight MCAC game

Jan. 14, 2014

Cody Krueger hit on 13 of 18 shots from the field as well as 10 of 13 foul shots on the way to 36 points, leading the visiting Cavaliers of Western Wisconsin Tech to a 106-96 victory over the M State Spartans.

Western Wisconsin jumped out early on the Spartans, gaining a 24-12 advantage at the 12:13 mark of the first half. The Spartans responded, led by four points from Lee Gaines and seven from Ja'Vonte Johnson, during a 14-3 run over the next four-plus minutes to close to 26-27 with 6:58 to go in the half. The Cavaliers responded, outscoring their hosts 22-9 to take the biggest lead of the half, 49-35, with 1:17 to go. Luke Halbakken scored one more layup before the break to make the half time mark 37-49.

In the second half the Cavs kept the lead between nine and 12 points for the biggest part of the beginning of the half. The Spartans chipped away at the lead before finally tying it at 77 on a Halbakken field goal with 6:13 to go. However, Western Wisconsin responded with a quick 8-0 run to regain control 85-77 with 4:33 to go in the game. It would get no closer than four the rest of the way.

For the game, both teams shot extremely well. The Cavs shot 56 percent, including going 11-23 from three and 21-28 from the line. The Spartans hit on 51 percent of their shots, but only five of 19 threes. They also hit 17-23 from the line. M State won the boards overall, 43-31, including 16 offensive.

M State dropped to 8-8 overall and 0-3 in MCAC play. They are next in action at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, when they host the number eight team in the nation, Rochester Community & Technical College.


Men’s basketball runs win streak to four

Jan. 3-4, 2014

The men's basketball team hosted the Spartan Classic over the weekend, the final two games before conference play begins. They came out on top in both contests, increasing their winning streak to four games.

In Friday's contest, M State and Itasca Community College played neck and neck in the first half until a mini run gave the Spartans a 10-point lead at the break, 31-21. Neither team shot well in that first half as M State hit on only 34 percent of its shots, while the Vikings shot only 27 percent. The teams combined for a 5-20 clip from three.

In the second half the Spartans slowly expanded their lead until it reached a game high of 21 at 71-50 with just over two minutes remaining. Itasca outscored M State 7-2 over the last two minutes to close the gap to the final 73-58 tally. In the second half the Spartans shot the ball much better, hitting 44 percent of their shots. Leading the way was JJ Morris with 21 points and five assists. Ja'Vonte Johnson and Thomas Ford also were in double figures with 19 and 18 respectively. Ford had a team-high nine rebounds.

In the Saturday game, the Spartans rode an 18-0 start to an 82-73 victory over the Concordia College JV team. After the start, there was never any doubt to the end result as M State led 40-32 at the half, and the lead would never get below eight. In the first half the Spartans shot 14 for 28 (50 percent) including six of 13 from three. Morris once again led the way with 28 points (23 in the first half) on 8-15 shooting, including five for nine from three and seven of 10 from the line. He also added five rebounds. Johnson was the only other double-digit scorer with 17 on the day. Derek Cofield led the team with nine rebounds.

The Spartans are 8-5 on the season and head into conference play this week with games on Wednesday at Minnesota West Community and Technical College and on Saturday at Anoka Ramsey Community College.


Spartans avenge earlier loss with win over Central Lakes

Dec. 21, 2013

JJ Morris came out firing and hitting often on the way to a Spartan season-high 37 points in a 77-63 M State win over Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

M State led by 18 at the half as they shot 52 percent from the field, led by Morris's 28. Central Lakes was held to just 22 percent.

In the second half the defensive pressure of the Spartans would continue as eventually the lead would reach 29, 58-29, before the final tally. Morris added eight rebounds and four assists to his scoring. Luke Halbakken was the only other double-digit scorer with 11.

"I was very proud of how we defended this game," said Head Coach Brandon Colvin. "It finally felt like we put a complete game together defensively. I am proud of this team and how they fought this weekend."

The Spartans are now 6-5 on the year and will be off until hosting Concordia College JV on Jan. 3.


Spartans improve to 5-5 with win over Rainy River

Dec. 20, 2013

The M State men's basketball team improved to 5-5 on the year with a 99-91 win over Rainy River Community College at the Central Lakes Classic in Brainerd.

M State led by as many as 18 points (89-71) in the second half. Ja'Vonte Johnson led the Spartans with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting and also had nine rebounds and six assists. Thomas Ford finished with 16 points and seven boards, and JJ Morris added 13 points. Derek Cofield had a team-high 14 rebounds.

"The first half was up and down, and I was not happy with our defensive effort or effort on the boards," said M State Head Coach Brandon Colvin. "Once we started to defend in the second half, we were able to take control."


Men’s basketball splits on the road

Dec. 13-14, 2013

The M State men's basketball team hit the road on Friday and Saturday for crossover games at Fond du Lac and Central Lakes College. They gained a split with a 76-68 win over Fond du Lac and a 72-56 loss at Central Lakes.

In Friday's game, the Spartans used a second-half run to bust open a close game on the way to the win over the Thunder. Leading the way was Luke Halbakken with 17 points, including 11 for14 from the line. JJ Morris added 14 with five rebounds, and Cole Riley was the final double-digit scorer with 12 points. Derek Cofield led the team in rebounds with 11, while William Taylor and Thomas Ford added nine each. Taylor also added four assists with no turnovers.

In Saturday's matinee match-up, the Spartan trailed by six at the half and had multiple chances to cut into the lead in the second half, only to come up empty enroute to the 15-point loss. Leading the way was Morris with 13 points, while Lee Gaines was the only other double-digit scorer with 11 off the bench. Riley led the way with 8 rebounds.

The loss put the Spartan record at 4-5 on the season.


Spartans see winning streak snapped in weekend split

Dec. 6-7, 2013

The M State men's basketball team played host to a pair of MCAC - North teams and gained a split over the weekend.

On Friday evening, the Spartans defeated Rainy River Community College 97-94. M State led 50-42 at the half and led by as many as 16 before the final score. Leading the Spartans was Luke Halbakken with a career-high 34 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 11-17 from the field and 11-15 from the line. Ja'Vonte Johnson hit five threes enroute to 30 points, as well as seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. The final double-digit scorer was William Taylor with 11 points and 10 assists.

In Saturday's game the Spartans led 16-9 early before the Hibbing Community College Cardinals took the lead and never relinquished it on the way to a 97-84 win. Leading the way was Johnson with 21 points and eight rebounds. JJ Morris added 18 points, and Cole Riley added 14 points off the bench.

M State is 3-3 on the season and is next in action Dec. 10 when the Spartans play host to North Dakota State College of Science, looking to avenge an earlier season loss.


Spartans use second half spurt to get past Pioneers

Nov. 26, 2103

Ja'vonte Johnson scored a career-high 29 points on 10-18 shooting and dished out seven assists to help propel the M State men's basketball team to a come-from-behind win, 75-68, over Northland Community &Technical College on Nov. 26 in Thief River Falls.

The Pioneers scored the first six points of the game and led the entire first half. Coming out of an M State timeout with 16:18 to go in the first half, the Spartans ran off six straight points to tie the game at six with 14:42 to go. Over the next six minutes, Northland outscored M State 14-7 to take a 20-13 lead. The closest the Spartans would get the remainder of the half was three at 23-20 on a Johnson three at 6:08. The biggest lead of the half for the home team would be 11, 35-24, before settling for a 35-26 halftime lead. For the half, M State struggled from the field, going 1-11 from three and hitting only 40 percent of all shots. They were also outshot 10-2 at the charity stripe.

For the first six minutes of the second half, the lead would stay between five and nine points. Finally the Spartans were able to cut it to two on a Johnson three with 11:00 to go. Anchored by its defense, M State went on a 15-4 run over the next seven minutes and found themselves leading 63-54 with 4:31 remaining. They realized their biggest lead with about 1:20 to go at 71-59 before the final tally was reached.

For the game there were only two ties and one lead change. The Spartans shot 27-57 (47 percent) from the field, while hitting 17-20 from the line for an 85 percent clip. They outshot the Pioneers 18-1 from the line in the second half. Northland shot 43 percent for the game. M State won the boards 38-33 and forced 14 turnovers. The Spartan bench outscored their counterparts 23-13. Thomas Ford was the only other Spartan in double figures with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Luke Halbakken had a solid all-round game with nine points, seven rebounds, four blocks and a steal. JJ Morris didn't shoot the ball well but grabbed five boards, dished three assists and had four steals.

The Spartans improved to 2-2 on the season and are next in action on Friday, Dec.6, when they host Rainy River Community College in a crossover game at 8 p.m. They host Hibbing the next day at 3 p.m.


Spartan men hold off Itasca

Nov. 19, 2013

With top scorers Luke Halbakken and J.J. Morris fighting foul trouble, the M State men's basketball team needed someone to step up. Someone did - three someones, for that matter - as Ja'vonte Johnson's 23 points led five double-digit scorers for the Spartans and M State took a close-fought contest 91-86 in Grand Rapids on Tuesday evening.

The Spartans used a 14-0 run over a four-minute stretch in the first half to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 21-8 lead with 10:38 remaining. Over that stretch Cole Riley scored six while three other Spartans also scored. The Vikings fought back using a 16-7 stretch to cut the lead to 28-24 with about six minutes to go. Over the next 1:30, using three fast break baskets by Devin Pokorney and Johnson, the lead was pushed back to 36-24 with 4:30 remaining in the half. At the half the score was 48-40 in M State's favor. Riley led the first-half barrage with 11 points.

In the second half the Spartans gained a 10-point lead at the 17:32 minute mark, 53-43, on a Johnson three. Over the next six minutes Itasca chipped away, outscoring the Spartans 15-8, capped off by a Waunell Beard three-point play, making it a 61-58 lead. M State responded with a 16-7 run of their own over the next four minutes, giving them their biggest second-half lead at 77-65 with 7:46 remaining. Itasca closed to within three on a Jonathan Matthews three-pointer with 2:59 remaining, but the closest they would get would be two at 85-83 with 1:13 to go.

The Spartans shot 52 percent from the field, including 55 percent in the second half. They hit a season-high nine threes. Both teams struggled from the charity stripe, combining for 45 of 77 overall.

Along with his points, Johnson added nine assists and four steals. Halbakken finished with 14 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Pokorney added 12 points and five rebounds. Leading the Vikings was Quenton Housley with 20 points.

M State is next in action at 8 p.m.Tuesday, Nov. 26, when the Spartans visit Thief River Falls for a rematch with Northland Community & Technical College.


Spartans fall to Northland

Nov. 16, 2013

The Northland Community &Technical College Pioneers needed two overtimes but outscored the Spartans 10-3 in the second to get the win 90-83 at the M State gymnasium.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with the Pioneers leading the majority of the half. They were up by as many as seven at 18-11 before M State was able to make a run, and a J.J. Morris three-pointer from Gavin Dettwiler cut the lead to 21-20 with just under seven minutes remaining. The score remained a one-point advantage until the 3:03 mark, when the Spartans finished the half on a 11-5 run capped by a Morris three at the halftime buzzer. The Spartans led 36-31 at the half.

M State's passing picked up in the second half as the Spartans were able to get some easy baskets inside by Lee Gaines, Luke Halbakken and Cole Riley enroute to a 46-39 lead with 13:50 remaining. The teams traded baskets until the Spartans gained their biggest lead of the game with 6:22 remaining on a Dettwiler put-back tip for a 59-51 score.

Northland battled back and eventually tied the score, but M State regained the lead and led by two after two Cole Riley free throws with just under 10 seconds remaining. However, Tate Mosher was fouled and hit two free throws to once again bring Northland to a tie with 5.5 seconds remaining. Ja'Vonte Johnson's three point attempt was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.

Both teams scored eight points in the first overtime, with NCTC winning the game in the second overtime.

Morris led all scorers with 21 points, including four of nine from three, adding three assists. Johnson added 17 and led the team with six assists. Halbakken scored 13, including seven in the second half, while Dettwiller and Gaines rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 each. Dettwiler added five blocks, while Riley led the way with nine rebounds.

Last modified: February 24th, 2014 at 09:50am