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Basketball

In the zone

PLAYOFFS: Mascenic’s Jared Stauffeneker drops 46 to lead the Vikings to a first-round playoff win, setting up a showdown with the Conant Orioles at the Pratt tonight at 7 p.m.

  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,
  • The Mascenic boys basketball team beat Sanborn in the first round of the NHIAA DIII playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the second round,

It was the Mascenic boys basketball team’s first home playoff game in years, and they did not disappoint. Jared Stauffeneker and the Vikings dominated from wire-to-wire on Tuesday, playing a near-flawless game against their first-round opponent, Sanborn. Even with Sanborn’s coaches imploring their defenders from the sidelines to keep contact with Stauffeneker at all times, he was simply in the zone that night, taking it hard to the rack over and over again and finishing, fouled or not.

The Vikings set the pace early – full speed. “The fast break was really working for us,” said Mascenic head coach Jay Starr, “and we played really well from beginning to end.”

According to Stauffeneker, that was the game plan all along. “We knew coming into the game, watching the team from the last time we played them, we can outrun them down the floor,” Stauffeneker said, “so that’s what we looked to do all night, and we ended up doing that, so it worked out well for us.”

Although Stauffeneker shouldered the bulk of the scoring load, creating transition buckets with his preternatural ability to come up with steals, he also played the role of the distributor, trusting his teammates to make plays of their own.

“Everybody stepped up tonight,” Stauffeneker said. “It’s been kind of the story of the last two weeks of the season. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Mascenic got a spark off the bench from senior Eddie Silver, who came in and ended the first half with a bang, nailing a deep three from the corner to send the Vikings into the locker room with a 20-point lead.

“Eddie coming in, hitting a three, diving on the floor, really got us going,” Starr said.

The Vikings, as always, took their emotional cues from senior Matt Cyr, who took a charge early that had the bench jumping for joy. He also converted a handful of Stauffeneker assists with sneaky cuts to the hoop as the defense collapsed away from him; time and again, the Sanborn help defense was late, and Cyr drew several fouls. He converted every free throw, a marked improvement over Friday’s one-point loss at Campbell, in which Mascenic struggled from the line. Cyr finished with 14 points.

The final score was 84-47; incredibly, Stauffeneker nearly outscored Sanborn on his own, scoring 46 points.

“The kid’s a great player,” Starr said of Stauffeneker. “He finishes, he’s a great scorer, he plays great defense for us – I can’t say enough about him. The kid has been awesome for us all year.”

For a team that missed the playoffs last season, this was a huge home victory.

“It was a great team win,” said Cyr. “Coming into this game, we had one goal – to win – and we came out and did that. We’re feeling good.”

The win sets up a showdown against No. 2 Conant tonight at 7 p.m. at the Pratt. The Orioles beat the Vikings twice this season already, winning 57-48 at home in January on 14 apiece by senior Rob O’Brien and junior Nate Wheeler, and 54-36 at Mascenic last month, with sophomore Josh DeGrenier blowing up for 16.

Of course, Conant’s strengths – defending, limiting turnovers and shutting down the fast break with tough press defense – are a recipe for success against the Vikings, who count on transition buckets to win, but with Mascenic playing as well as they have all season, the game is hardly a done deal.

“Everybody knows Conant’s the top dog in the state,” Starr said. “We’re going to go up there and give it our best shot and see what happens. That’s really all we can do and that’s really all I can expect from my kids is go up there and play hard.”

Cyr and the rest of the Vikings are confident heading into tonight’s game.

“We’re just going to play our game, keep working hard,” said Cyr. “If we play like we’ve been playing the last few games, we’ll be all set. We’re not even really worried about it. We’re just going to go out and play. That’s how you have to look at it. They’re just any other team. We just gotta go in and play our hearts out and I think we’ll be all right.”

And if Mascenic is to come out and challenge Conant for an upset bid, it will have to come down to Stauffeneker, who has been frustrated by the ferocious Orioles defense in his career to date.

“We can’t fall into their play,” Stauffeneker said. “The past two times we played them, that’s kind of been the story of the game. We stick with them the first quarter and then all of a sudden we just panic and just give up. Now, I think we’re getting to the point where we’re all stepping up big, we all know what to do with the ball, we’re strong with it. We know what to do, and I think we’re going to be capable of pulling this off.”

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