Knights come alive in 2nd half, down Warriors
SLEEPY EYE — After cruising past Cleveland with an 89-33 win on Day 1 of the Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Tip-Off Invite Friday, St. Mary’s had a tougher challenge Saturday afternoon against BOLD.
Despite struggling to gets shots to fall in the first half on Saturday, the Knights were a different team in the second half and wrapped up their final Tip-Off game with a 67-44 win over the Warriors in nonconference girls’ basketball action.
The Knights were led by Madison Mathiowetz, who finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Mathiowetz passed 1,000 career rebounds a day earlier against Cleveland.
Reagan Severson also had a big game for the Knights with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while eighth-grader Natalie Fischer added 10 points.
Knights head coach Bruce Woitas said that his squad was rushing shots in the first half but moved the ball better and found cleaner looks in the second half.
“In the first half, I think we were kind of rushing our shots a little bit too much,” Woitas said. “Obviously we were missing them, a little bit short, we might have been a little fatigued from the night before. But I thought in the second half we just started moving the ball better offensively and just created better looks and we were able to finish more shots in that second half.
“But overall, real pleased with our defensive effort on both days [of the Tip-Off] and then somewhat the rebounding today, too. We got some big key rebounds when we needed them.”
In that first half, the Knights held an early 11-4 lead after a jumper by Mathiowetz before Mari Ryberg hit a 3 to bring BOLD within 4. Ryberg led BOLD on the day with 22 points.
The Knights grew their lead to 7 again moments later on a 3 by Fischer before BOLD got back-to-back buckets to trail 19-17 and force a St. Mary’s timeout.
Liz Schwint converted an and-one out of the timeout for the Knights, and Severson pushed the Knights’ lead to 29-19 with less than three minutes left in the half after back-to-back buckets. Lainey Braulick hit a 3 for the Warriors to bring their deficit to single digits again before Mathiowetz added two free throws late for a 31-22 Knights lead at halftime.
The Warriors scored first in the second half after a pair of free throws by Ryberg, but the Knights got a putback bucket by Schwint and a basket in the paint by Mathiowetz to lead 35-24 and force a BOLD timeout.
Mathiowetz got a bucket inside and a steal for a layup out of that timeout to give St. Mary’s a 39-24 lead before BOLD ended the run with two more Ryberg free throws. The Knights continued to create turnovers and knock down shots from there out, taking their largest lead of the day, 63-37, on an inside basket from Mathiowetz.
Woitas said that he was pleased with the overall team effort he got during the Tip-Off.
“Madison is going to be our leader, but I thought Reagan played really well [Saturday] — where she struggled a little bit offensively [Friday],” Woitas said. “But Natalie Fischer stepped up and hit some shots for us, Addie Hoffmann did a nice job both nights. Jenica Schroepfer — she didn’t score I don’t think [Saturday] but had a nice game the first night out. So just seeing that — and then Allie Labat is capable of scoring for us, too. So I think we have weapons, we have people that can score, I think we have that inside-outside presence as well. If these kids continue to grow, game to game, by the end of the year I think we can be very, very competitive.”
Schwint also had a solid showing for the Knights on Saturday, finishing with 7 points, seven boards and three assists. She also held her own defensively while matching up against a fellow 6-footer in Abigail Meyers.
“Liz, even going back to last year, she did a great job defending the bigger girl that she has to go up against,” Woitas said. “And I think you’re going to see more offense come out of her this year as well, too. She’s very capable of that, we were seeing that both [days]. I thought she’s grown a lot, too, but we need her to have those types of nights consistently for us to be successful.”
The Knights (2-0) travel to take on Wabasso on Tuesday night in Tomahawk Conference action.