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Rockets launch to 12-0: New Rockford-Sheyenne holds off No. 4 Linton

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Top-ranked New Rockford-Sheyenne and No. 4 Linton had a lot of hype to live up to when they met at the Jamestown Civic Center Tuesday night.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Top-ranked New Rockford-Sheyenne and No. 4 Linton had a lot of hype to live up to when they met at the Jamestown Civic Center Tuesday night.

And the two North Dakota Class B boys basketball teams did not disappoint.

In front of more than 2,000 fans, the Rockets held off Linton 56-54 to improve to 12-0.

While never able to find a consistent rhythm offensively, New Rockford-Sheyenne carried a 44-38 lead into the final quarter. But the Lions, who suffered their first loss of the season on Jan. 17 to Dickinson Trinity, battled all the way back.

Nick Schuetz's steal and layup with 3:30 left in the game capped a 9-2 Linton run that gave the Lions a 47-46 lead. But the Rockets answered quickly, scoring six points in the next 60 seconds -- four by junior Evan Bennefeld -- to put them back in front, 52-47.

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Two free throws by Kyle Carr and a jumper by Craig Weber trimmed the lead to 52-51 with 1:40 remaining.

After turnovers by both teams, Alex Belquist knocked down two free throws for the Rockets, pushing the lead up to 54-51 with 50 seconds left. After two more turnovers, Linton had a chance to tie on Schuetz's uncontested 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, but his shot was short.

Bennefeld, who finished with 22 points, followed with two free throws and Carr buried a long 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final deficit.

"I was happy with how we came back at them in the second half, and we had a chance at the end," said Linton coach Dan Carr, whose team fell to 10-2. "We grew up in the second half and the kids did what we've been telling them to do."

Not that the first half was all bad for the Lions, especially the first quarter. Carr's 15-foot jumper late in the period pushed the Lions' lead to 17-9 at the 1:30 mark. But the Rockets answered with the last five points of the quarter and trailed 17-14.

"They are the best defensive team we've played all year," said Bennefeld, who led the Rockets with 22 points. "This was a fun game to play in. Every possession was important."

The Rockets went on a 15-3 run, capped by Tyler Cook's 3-pointer, to start the second quarter to take a 29-20 lead. Michael Cudworth extended it to 32-21 when he drained a trey before Linton battled back to within eight points by the half.

"We had too many turnovers (14) in the first half, but they had a lot to do with that," Carr said.

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"Our defense has been pretty consistent all year," Demester said. "We've been able to come up with big stops when we've had to."

Linton's defensive pressure sparked an 8-2 run in the third quarter that tied the game at 34-34. But six straight from the Rockets, four by Belquist, put the Rockets back in front.

"We expected a tough game and that's what we got," said Belquist, who finished with 16 points. "They're big and they're good ... It's a big win for us."

New Rockford-Sheyenne 14 32 44 56

Linton 17 24 38 54

NEW ROCKFORD-SHEYENNE: Cook 5, Belquist 16, Bennefeld 22, Weber 10, Cudworth 3. Totals: 22 11-11.

LINTON: Schuetz 8, Carr 22, Weber 7, Sathren 8, Ferderer 8, Bodvig 1. Totals: 21 8-11.

Total fouls: New Rockford-Sheyenne 18, Linton 14. 3-point goals: Bennefeld, Cook, Cudworth, Carr 3, Weber.

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