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Mount Horeb-Reedsburg

Mount Horeb's Jason Larson scores against Reedsburg's Will Fuhrmann, left, and Carter Daniels on Friday night.

MOUNT HOREB — Facing an early season test against Reedsburg, the Mount Horeb boys basketball team wanted to demonstrate why it is considered one of Division 2’s top teams.

Mount Horeb seniors Gunnar Nortman and Jason Larson, in particular, came out aggressively on offense Friday night — eager to show the Beavers the firepower the host Vikings possessed.

“We just wanted to come out strong right away,” the 6-foot-2 Nortman said. “They were coming for us. They just beat Waunakee and they wanted a piece of us. And we wanted to show them we were a top team. We’ve been playing with these guys for a long time — since sixth, seventh grade. So, we have all the chemistry; we just need to pull through.”

The 6-5 Larson scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half and Nortman totaled 10 of his 15 while Mount Horeb built a 10-point halftime lead. The Vikings, ranked eighth in Division 2 in this week’s WisSports.net poll, then pulled away for a 72-53 Badger North Conference victory and remained unbeaten.

“I thought this was our first true statement game,” Mount Horeb coach Todd Nesheim said. “How do we really stack up?”

Quite well, it turned out.

“Mount Horeb is a great team,” Reedsburg coach Josh Rupnow said. “They are a team that is really hard to guard. It’s really hard to put five players out there to match up with their five guys. They are deep. They can all shoot. They can all attack. It’s frustrating when you can’t stop them. I thought we battled well in the game.”

Larson scored 10 of his points, including sinking two 3-pointers, and Nortman added eight points in the first 6 minutes, 41 seconds, sparking Mount Horeb (4-0 overall, 2-0 Badger North) to a 20-11 lead.

“We have five starters who can score the ball,” said Larson, who has received college interest from Chicago State and Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, Illinois. “Whoever is on, we just feed the hot hand. Whoever is feeling it that night, and it was me and Gunnar the past couple nights.”

After the Vikings gained the early lead, the Beavers (3-1, 1-1) closed within five points once in the first half and three times in the second half. But the Vikings always answered with a run to keep a comfortable margin. Mount Horeb then put together a 12-2 knockout punch, taking a 61-46 lead with 6:50 remaining.

Nesheim — whose team has eight seniors, including four starters — said the Vikings didn’t panic when the Beavers rallied.

“Once we got some breathing room, they made a run or two,” Nesheim said. “But I don’t think we ever let them seriously threaten us at any point in the game. So, that was awesome.”

Reedsburg junior Will Fuhrmann — who entered averaging 21.7 points per game — led the Beavers with 17 points, including 11 in the first half. But Mount Horeb held Reedsburg 23 points below its scoring average.

“I think we are really good defensively,” Nortman said. “We always have preached that in the past, but I think this year we are doing really well at it really early in the season.”

Added Nesheim: “That was a good game for us — just to find out where you are at. Reedsburg is a good team. They shoot the ball really well. They’ve been able to put up 76 points a game, I think. I’ve been very pleased with our defensive effort.”

Mount Horeb junior Owen Ziegler, whom Nesheim said has battled a back injury, sank three 3-pointers and scored 13 points off the bench — 11 in the second half. Bryce Farnsworth, a 6-5 senior, added 11 points for the Vikings.

Reedsburg 28 25 — 53

Mount Horeb 38 34 — 72

REEDSBURG — Dregney 2 2-2 6, Tully 3 0-0 6, Fuhrmann 7 2-3 17, Hale 0 0-0 0, Belk 0 0-0 0, Molitor 3 0-0 6, Daniels 2 0-0 6, Schmitt 1 1-1 3, Kast 0 0-2 0, Bestor 3 0-0 9, Schirmacher 0 0-0 0, Campbell 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 5-8 53.

MOUNT HOREB — Gilkes 0 1-4 1, Zenz 2 1-2 5, Farnsworth 4 0-1 11, Nortman 4 4-4 15, Larson 9 0-0 21, Rasmussen 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Post 3 0-0 6, Ziegler 5 0-0 13, Smith 0 0-0 0, Bagstad 0 0-0 0, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Pierce 0 0-0 0, Nelson 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 6-11 72.

3-point goals — R 6 (Bestor 3, Daniels 2, Fuhrmann 1), MH 10 (Farnsworth 3, Larson 3, Ziegler 3, Nortman 1). Total fouls — R 12, MH 15.

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.