BURLINGTON — For a while, the Van Buren County High School boys basketball team gave Notre Dame all it wanted.
Then, the Nikes’ athleticism and size took over the game.
Axel Tjaden scored a game-high 20 points and had two second-half dunks, as the Nikes rolled to a 82-35 SEI Superconference South Division win over the Warriors Tuesday at Father Minett Gymnasium.
The Nikes, who won by 13 in the teams’ first meeting in Keosauqua, put the game away with a big third quarter after leading just 28-19 at halftime. Tjaden could not be stopped in the second half, as he scored eight straight points to push the lead to 36-21.
Van Buren County’s offense was sporadic in the third quarter, but a three-point play by Jackson Manning cut the deficit to 42-28 with 4:06 left. Then, Mitchell Brent soared through the lane for a one-handed slam, was fouled and converted the three-point play, and two plate layups by Josh Smith put the Nikes up 53-32 at the end of the quarter.
The Warriors were outscored 29-3 in the fourth quarter as the Nikes knocked down four 3-pointers and Brent had a two-handed slam driving the baseline.
Tony Davison scored 12 points to lead Van Buren, which was playing its third game in four days. Lane Davis buried three first-half 3-pointers and scored 11 points.
Tjaden’s big game led four Nikes in double figures. Brent added 15 points, while Smith added 11 and Nick Skerik 10.
Van Buren County actually led the game early in the contest, as Davis buried a three from the corner to put the Warriors up 5-2. However, Notre Dame went on an 18-2 run as the Nikes picked up the pace and forced the Warriors into a fast game.
Still, the Warriors were able to get within 24-16 late in the half when Owen Loeffler scored inside, but Brent scored in the paint in the final seconds of the half to push the lead to nine at halftime.
Notre Dame’s 8-2 run to start the second half put the game out of reach as the Warriors weren’t able to get closer than 11.
Van Buren County closes the regular season hosting New London and No. 2 (Class 1A) WACO next week.