SLEEPY EYE - It became apparent early in Thursday night's boys basketball game between the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Knights and Truman/Martin Luther Bluejays that neither team put airtight defense on their list of New Year's resolutions.
Instead, the two teams popped 3-pointers like bottles of champagne, with St. Mary's outgunning T/ML 85-76 for its first victory of 2014.
There were 22 3-pointers in the game, with the Knights responsible for 14 of them. It was a remarkable number considering the team hadn't played since before Christmas.
"I think we've had one practice over the break where the whole team was there," St. Mary's coach Tim Milliard said. "We really shot well from the three (point range) tonight. We had a lull in the first half, but we did a good job coming back in the second."
The early going was dominated by St. Mary's, who opened up a 22-13 lead after 3s by John Brandl and Jay Helget. But the Knights had trouble all night with T/ML's Sam Geistfeld, who had no trouble scoring at will inside and under the basket, netting 17 of his 36 points in the first half.
It was Geistfeld and Colton Greiner that led the Bluejays comeback, with consecutive 3s by Greiner putting T/ML up 30-28 late in the first half. The Bluejays held a 37-34 lead at the break, with the real fireworks just getting the fuse lit for the second half.
The Knights opened the second stanza by going on a 9-0 run in the first two minutes to take a 43-40 lead. But down 48-44, it was T/ML's turn to get red hot from downtown.
Behind 3's from Greiner, Geistfeld and Adam Neumann, the Bluejays scored 15 straight to grab a 59-48 lead with 10:45 left in the game. The Knights shrugged off the deficit by going back to their old friend, the 3-pointer, and re-taking the lead at 67-66 less than five minutes later.
A final 3 by David Surprenant with less than three minutes remaining made it 79-70 and essentially lock up the win for St. Mary's. The second half only featured four free throws in the first 16 minutes, with a total of eight shot in the entire half.
Geistfeld's 36 points led all scorers, with Greiner adding 12 and Alex Weihe with 11 for the Bluejays. The Knights had five players in double figures, with Surprenant scoring 24, Payton Adams netting 17, Mike Hirsch with 14, Brandl with 13 and Helget with 11.
St. Mary's resumes play at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Minnesota Valley Lutheran.