NEW ULM - It couldn't have been any better if Santa had dropped through the gym roof and ripped the 800-pound gorilla clean off the backs of the New Ulm girl's basketball team.
After 52 losses in a row, the Eagles danced to the strains of "We Are Family" after the final buzzer showed a 43-37 victory against St. James.
Senior Ellie Schneider, who was an absolute board beast under the basket against the Saints, put quite the perspective on the win.
New Ulm’s Taylor Bolduan (3) and Ellie Schneider (15) react after the Eagles defeated St. James on Thursday at NUHS.
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"It's the first game we've won since I've been on varsity," Schneider said. "And I started on varsity when I was a sophomore."
The relief was also evident for coach Dan Reinhart.
"It's so good to get this off our shoulders," Reinhart said. "The guards took care of the ball and we didn't have many turnovers."
There wasn't much scoring in the first half. But after Hunter Ahlness broke a 12-12 tie with a 3-pointer, New Ulm wouldn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Taylor Bolduan and Kelsey Anderson also had 3s, but it was freshman Meleah Reinhart who led the way with 10 first-half points as the Eagles took a 21-17 lead into halftime.
New Ulm took a 24-18 lead early in the second half after a Schneider layup, but St. James tied it at 28-28 with less than nine minutes to play.
A three-point play by Reinhart let the Eagles regain the lead, with a huge 3 by Anderson with 2:55 to go establishing a 39-35 New Ulm margin.
It was here the crowd started to realize the black streak might be on the verge of extinction. Anderson then stole the ball and the Eagles started playing keep away.
With 48.9 seconds left, Bolduan hit two critical free throws to make it 41-37. Another steal by Anderson ran the clock down to :12.
"I just I had to get the ball back so the team could win," Anderson said.
The steal also set up Reinhart at the free throw line to put the bow on the win package.
"I was just at the line thinking, 'I can't miss this,'" Reinhart said.
She didn't, sinking both shots and starting the celebration. Reinhart led all scorers with 19 points.
New Ulm hosts Mankato West at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.