Knights rally to beat Chargers
NEW ULM — Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s battled back from 15 points down to take a 54-53 win over Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Friday night in Tomahawk Conference girls’ basketball action.
St. Marys’ (12-2, 5-2) Jody Hansen got a late steal and dished it off to a driving Sara Zinniel for a layup, cutting the Knights’ deficit to 51-50. Seconds later, Hansen stole the ball again on the following inbounds pass and was fouled.
She then knocked down both bonus free throws with 1:03 left to play to give the Knights their first lead, 52-51, since they led 3-2 in the opening moments of the game.
Hansen finished the night with just 4 points, but she added five assists and seven steals. Hansen’s defensive pressure late in the game certainly played a big factor in the St. Mary’s victory.
“I knew I needed to do something to get the energy back up,” Hansen said. “I’m not the best shooter, so on the defensive end I knew how to pick it up. We have other girls who can make plays, so if I got the steal, I knew someone else could put it down or get to the foul line.”
Madison Mathiowetz led the Knights with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Cassie Heinrichs had 15 points and five boards.
MVL (7-7, 3-4) was on a roll early on in the game, taking an 11-3 lead after a 9-0 run. The Knights stormed back with a quick 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 11-9 after a layup by Zinniel.
MVL took those 6 points back right away, though, and after a reverse layup by Abby Nelson, the Chargers led 17-9. Nelson had 9 points and 11 rebounds for MVL on the night.
The Knights struggled to find the bottom of the net for the rest of the first half and trailed 28-15 at halftime.
A deep 2 by Haley Birkholz gave MVL a 30-15 lead to open the second half, which would be its largest lead of the game. Any time the Knights would get something going, however, MVL would have an answer back.
At least that was the case until an and-one jumper from the foul line by Sydney Windschitl and a fast-break layup by Mathiowetz cut the St. Mary’s deficit to 44-39 with less than seven minutes to go.
St. Mary’s picked up the energy from there and after a bucket inside by Heinrichs had the Knights down by 3, Hansen grabbed her two key steals to put her squad in front. MVL’s Lauren Paulsen scored the final bucket of the game with 6.2 seconds left and also took the final half-court heave that was off the mark.
Birkholz led the Chargers with 20 points, Paulsen had an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.
MVL coach Rollin Timm said that even with the tough loss, he thought it proved that his girls could compete with the top teams.
“Our girls should take away the fact that we can play with one of the better teams in the section, one of the better teams in the conference and compete well with them,” Timm said. “It should only help our confidence. I know it’s a tough loss for them tonight, and they’re not happy in the locker room, but we’ve just got to grow from it.”
MVL hosts Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, while the Knights travel to take on Cedar Mountain/Comfrey at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.