Knights roll on to Target Center with state win over Crusaders
MANKATO — Behind Madison Mathiowetz’s 44-point effort, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s continued its unbeaten season on Wednesday by taking down Mayer Lutheran 78-67 in a Class A girls’ basketball state quarterfinals game at Mankato East High School.
The win moves the Knights (23-0) on to a semifinals meeting with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (22-1), the north’s top seed, at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Target Center.
Mathiowetz also had 18 rebounds, five steals and five assists to compliment her scoring barrage on Wednesday.
Attacking the Crusaders and building a lead early on was key for the Knights in the win.
“I thought we did a great job as a squad coming out strong and not having any lapses,” Mathiowetz said. “We came out, we got a good lead, and that was important for us down the stretch.”
Sydney Windschitl also had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights, while Reagan Severson had 7 points and three assists and Liz Schwint added eight boards.
Mayer Lutheran was led by Julia Carns’ 22 points, while Emma Lade had 20 points.
St. Mary’s took a 10-5 lead after a 3 by Windschitl with a little less than 12 minutes to go in the opening half. After the Crusaders cut their deficit to 10-8 after a free throw and layup by Lade, Emma Currans dropped in a 3 to put the Knights back up 5. Mathiowetz then quickly got two steals back-to-back that led to trips to the foul line, where she sank four free throws to give her squad a 17-8 lead.
A step-back 3 by Mathiowetz had the Knights in front 20-9 moments later. The Knights took their largest lead of the half, 31-17, after back-to-back buckets by Mathiowetz. Carns hit a 3 late in the half to have the Crusaders down 31-20 at halftime.
Every time the Crusaders got something to drop in the second half, the Knights almost always answered with big plays on the other end of the floor. After a free throw by Rylee Noerenberg cut Mayer Lutheran’s deficit to 36-29, Windschitl knocked down a 3, Severson scored on a fast-break layup and Mathiowetz drilled a 3 to put the Knights up 44-29 and force a Mayer Lutheran timeout with 13:42 left to play.
A foul-line jumper by Mathiowetz and a layup by Windschitl gave the Knights their largest lead of the game, 60-41, with less than six minutes to play. The Crusaders cut their deficit to 10 three times in the final three minutes with Mathiowetz in foul trouble, but the Knights were able to knock down some free throws late and hold on for the win.
Now the Knights will continue their state journey in Minneapolis.
“It’s such a fun ride,” Mathiowetz said. “This is what we’ve been dreaming of since we started playing basketball. And it’s been a goal since the beginning of this year to take that state title, and we get to go play at the biggest stage there is, and that’s just super exciting. And I think it’ll be really fun for us to see what we can do.”