Mooseheart’s giant front line of 7-1, 6-11 and 6-7 proved too tall a mountain to climb for host Luther North.
Both teams entered as unbeatens with two games remaining in Northeastern Athletic Conference play, but the visiting Red Ramblers all but locked up the league title with a 61-50 victory.
Luther North (12-6, 5-1) stayed within striking distance, cutting an 18-point deficit midway in the third quarter down to 45-33 heading into the fourth.
The Wildcats made one last push as they sank three consecutive three pointers — a pair by Chris Jenkins and one by Logan Hammerberg — in an 11-2 run that sliced the gap to 51-44 with 3:12 left.
But Mooseheart (15-2, 6-0) took control of the game in the final two minutes, clinching at the free-throw line by sinking 7-of-8 down the stretch.
Makur Paou led Mooseheart with 24 points, 15 rebound and two blocks. Mangisto Deng added 12 points and nine rebounds in the victory.
Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said he was extremely impressed with the play of Luther North.
“Coach Tucker does an exceptional job,” Ahrens said. “They run their offense and understand how to play the game. He doesn’t have the height, but what they lack in height, they make up with their understanding of how to play the game. I’ll hate to play them again.”
Point guard Stevon King, who averages just 4 points a game, stepped up for Luther North with 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals. The Wildcats’ leading scorers — Chris Jenkins and Nate Kurtz, who both average double doubles — struggled offensively.
“We will bounce back. My two leading scorers had a tough night, but we will bounce back,” Luther North coach Jason Tucker said.
Tucker noted he was proud of his team’s effort.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way we played,” he said. “They are a very talented team and we didn’t hit some shots that we normally would hit, but our effort and our intensity was always there.”
Chris Jenkins added 11 points for the Wildcats.