By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - Even without leading scorer Walker Froehling at near 100 percent, the St. James Saints are a pretty good boy's basketball team.
Because of illness, the 6-foot-7 senior played less than four minutes early in the game and scored three points.
But Zach Brandts and John Olsen picked up the slack as St. James rolled to a 77-49 win over New Ulm Thursday night in a South Central Conference game.
Brandts led St. James with 25 points and Olsen added 19 as the Saints improved to 5-2 in the SCC and 14-3 overall.
Last year the Saints posted a 3-22 record for the season.
Jackson Yackley and Jarin Spence each scored 10 points for New Ulm (3-16).
"I thought that the kids came out with some pretty good focus and intensity and played real well," New Ulm coach Steve Foley said. "I know that at one point we were tied at 27-27 and we turned the ball over three straight times and were down 34-27. At halftime, we had 14 turnovers (with the Saints getting eight points of off them.)"
"I thought that our initial defense was pretty good," added Foley. "We forced them into tough shots but they got second, third and fourth shots."
St. James used that to jump to a commanding 38-29 lead.
A later 6-0 spurt ending with a 3-pointer from Olsen upped the lead to 46-31 to lessen the absence of Froehling.
A Brandts' 3-pointer at the buzzer gave St. James a 49-37 halftime lead.
An Olsen basket off of the eighth turnover in the second half increased the Saints' lead to 63-40 with 11:58 left in the game.
Again, it was the Eagles' inability to control the ball that hurt them.
"The turnovers just killed us," Foley said. "There were a couple of times we got the defensive board and turned it over right away. We turn the ball over and Brandts hit that three (to end the half). We need to do a better job of that."
Foley said that the turnovers (25 in the game) are more of a mental thing.
"We talked about a lack of confidence - you make a mistake and you get down on yourself and it snowballs from there."
Jordan Standmeyer's basket with six minutes left in the game saw the Saints up comfortably at 73-42.
Despite the loss, Foley was again pleased with his team's hard work and effort. "They bring it every game and they do not quit."
New Ulm hosts Redwood Valley at 7:30 p.m. Monday in a nonconference battle.