M State men’s basketball player and former Otter, Nic Pearson controls the offense Saturday during the Spartan Classic at home against Itasca Community College.

The M State men’s basketball team would post a 1-1 record Friday and Saturday at their home invitational as they took on Mesabi Range and Itasca community colleges.

On Friday, the Spartans would have a strong defensive output as they topped Mesabi Range 83-71.

M State would start off slow, but discovered their rhythm midway through the first half and took a 39-29 lead into the break. In the second half, the Spartans carried over the momentum as they outscored the Ironmen 44-42.

“This was a game of runs as they started strong and had an early lead as we struggled with our shooting,” Spartans head coach Shawn Sorenson said. “Then our defense helped give us some momentum and the shots started to fall as we took the lead late in the first half.  We were able to hold the lead most of the second half but it was close the whole way and their offensive rebounds kept them in it.  We were a bit rusty but we made the plays we needed to and got an important win to start the second half of our season.”

Alend Alemadi led the Spartans with 23 points, while teammates Renell Edwards (16) and Alex Hendricks (15) were also in double figures.

In a close game Saturday, the Itasca Vikings would edge the Spartans 81-78.

The Spartans would hold a 39-36 lead at the break, but a back-and-forth second-half battle gave the Vikings a late edge to get the win.

Alemadi led the Spartans in scoring with 17 points, while Jonaus Baune (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Edwards (10 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded a double-double. Nic Pearson also chipped in 13 points in the game.

The Spartans will start Southern Division play Wednesday as they welcome in Anoka-Ramsey for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

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