NEW ULM - Sleepy Eye hit 23-of-29 free throws and the Indians used that differential to scoot by New Ulm Cathedral 52-49 Tuesday night in a Tomahawk Conference boys basketball game.
Brandon Polesky led the Indians (4-3, 2-2) with 21 points while John Mangen contributed 16.
Jake Stadick led Cathedral (1-7, 1-4) with 16 points.
"I have to credit Cathedral," Indians coach Brian Polesky said. "They were without a key starter (in Jeff Osborne, who is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain). They played hard and it was a battle from the opening tip."
New Ulm Cathedral coach Paul Hazuka was happy with the way that his team battled all game.
"We talked about playing tougher mentally and physically and we really did that in the second half," Hazuka said.
Cathedral trailed 11-9 before the Indians outscored the Greyhounds 13-2 to assume a 24-11 lead.
Baskets from Mangen and Brandon Polesky and a Polesky 3-pointer made it an 18-9 lead. The Indians then scored all of their final six points in the first half from the free throw line as they took a comfortable 26-16 lead at halftime.
But the Greyhounds came out and kept cutting into the Indians' lead in the second half.
A Ben Kittler basket saw Cathedral pull to within 36-32 at the 10-minute mark. Later, a Jake Stadick 3 saw the Greyhounds pull within three points at 38-35.
"We got sluggish in the second half," Brian Polesky said. "We missed some shots where I thought that we had some good looks at. We did not shoot well from the floor all night long (10-of-34 from the floor) but that is a credit to the Cathedral defense. They harassed us all night long."
The Indians made only four field goals in the second half but were bailed out by a 15-for-18 performance from the charity stripe.
"The free throws are a difference when the game comes down to three points," Hazuka said. "We put them on the line too many times."
Down 52-44 with 46 seconds left in the contest, the Greyhounds put a scare into the Indians.
Two free throws from Collin Helget and a Stadick 3 cut the Sleepy Eye lead to 51-49 with 19 seconds left.
"The kids really came out in the second half and they made adjustments," Hazuka said. "Defensively we are OK. We just need to come together as a team offensively."