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Beavers remain on pace

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CLAYTON — It’s hard to believe that a team that is 15-1, has won 12 straight games, and is ranked seventh in the state is not generating a lot of publicity this season.

But that’s what happens when you’re expected to be very good and have dominated inferior teams. People expect you’ll win a lot, and anything less will be a disappointment.

The Beaver River boys basketball team, however, is not taking anything for granted. That’s why Friday night’s 83-70 Frontier League “C’’ Division win over host Thousand Islands, which clinched at least a tie for the title, was so important to a team with its sights set squarely on a long postseason run.

Senior Alex Hall connected for a season-high 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Beaver River (15-1 overall, 14-1 league) pulled away in the final four minutes of the third quarter and completed the season sweep of the second-place Vikings (11-4, 11-3).

Zach Steiner also contributed 17 points and Tarren Farney added 13 for the Beavers, who have not lost since an early December 13-point defeat against Class B South Jefferson.

Hall said it’s that time of the season when the Beavers start making their run toward a sectional title.

“We’ve got to keep working hard, and not get too overconfident,” said Hall, one of five starters back from last year’s Section 3 Class C finalists. “I think we’re getting better in a lot of different areas. Our defense wasn’t as good tonight, but it’s been pretty steady. And we’re getting contributions from a lot of different guys.”

Coach Lynn Petzoldt agreed he’s seen progress despite Beaver River winning so many games so easily.

“A lot of little things,” said Petzoldt of his team’s slow but steady improvement. “We’re playing much better together, our defense is certainly better than last year, and our bench is giving us a lot more.”

The Beavers held a slim 32-31 halftime edge, but saw the Vikings score the first eight points of the third period.

That’s when Hall went to work. He scored 10 consecutive points, all in the paint, to get his club back in the game.

“You could tell Alex wanted the ball, then finished when he got it,” Petzoldt said. “We’ve been trying to get him to play stronger in traffic, and tonight he did.”

Hall said, “I knew I had to get tougher over the summer. Now I’m more comfortable taking contact.”

After falling behind 46-44, Beaver River hit four consecutive 3-pointers, two by Farney, and one each from Trevor Lehman and Steiner, to break the game open.

The Beavers saw the Vikings draw within four points early in the fourth quarter when Hall drove for another easy hoop, and Samuel Widrick scored six straight points to help his club pull away again.

“We were going too fast the first half,” Hall said. “Once we settled down, made better passes and looked inside, it set up some of the easy outside shots.”

Steiner finished with four 3-pointers and Farney had three.

“Give their kids credit for making those big shots,” said Thousand Islands coach Scott LaLonde. “We had to pay so much attention to Hall, the outside shot was going to be open.”

Fabulous freshman Quincy Aubertine scored 32 points for Thousand Islands, including 10 free throws, as the Beavers employed a diamond-and-one defense. Teddy Ebbing added a season-high 16 points.

“I thought we made Aubertine work really hard for his points,” Petzoldt said. “Dustin Neddo didn’t score a point, but his defense was very important.”

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