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DIXON — Jens Soderholm and the La Salle-Peru boys basketball team felt like they had something to prove Friday night against Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division foe Dixon after Tuesday’s tough loss to rival St. Bede and receiving a lower-than-expected postseason draw for the Class 3A Rock Falls Regional.
Unfortunately for the host Dukes, the Cavaliers made their statement loud and clear with a 77-57 victory at Lancaster Gymnasium, led by game-highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds from Soderholm.
With the win, L-P (14-8) remains in the catbird seat of the regular-season NIB 12 West Division race with a perfect 8-0 league record and games against Ottawa and Sterling remaining.
“I felt like we all wanted to come out and prove we’re a good team. We’re a great team this year and we can go far if we stay as a team, play as a team and just keep treating each other like teammates,” said Soderholm.
“You take what you get,” added Soderholm of receiving the No. 3 seed at Rock Falls despite a win over No. 2 Ottawa. “We’ll prove that we’re the best team in the regional. Our goal this year was to win conference and to win a regional. That starts with the opening (regional) game against Dixon, then Ottawa and whoever is in the championship game.”
The Cavaliers turned their extra motivation Friday night into a 17-12 lead after the first quarter, which they expanded in the second frame as they outscored Dixon 23-16 behind 11 points from Soderholm to take a 40-28 lead into intermission.
Dixon was not able to bring the L-P lead below double digits in the second half as the Cavs cruised to the league win.
“I’m really excited with the way we played tonight. I thought our kids had a little extra motivation coming into this game, and they really performed well tonight,” L-P coach Jim Cherveny said. “I think after the regional seeding came out, our guys were a little motivated. The guys were a little disappointed.”
L-P junior guard Noah Lamboley finished with 13 points and senior Adam Happ added 11 to give the Cavs a trio of players with double-digit scoring.
Dixon was led by sophomore guard Cal Jarrett with 20 points. Freshman forward Isaiah Roby added 13 points and a team-best eight rebounds, while sophomore Laron Carr chipped in 10 points for the Dukes.
While his squad is in control of its own destiny, Cherveny said the Cavs still had some tough tests in store before claiming the NIB 12 West title.
“We’re in the driver’s seat, but there’s a long way to go. We’ve got Ottawa coming to our place next week, and that will be an exciting night for L-P Cavalier basketball,” Cherveny said.
Notes: Soderholm left the contest at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter after sustaining some facial lacerations on a loose ball scramble and returned with a bandaged nose midway through the fourth quarter. … L-P won the sophomore contest 49-42. Ryan Atilano had 12 points and Elliott Lewis added nine for the L-P sophomores.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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