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Balanced effort leads Knights past Clippers

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Liz Schwint (54) looks to score in the paint against Cleveland as teammate Morgan Mathiowetz (3) looks during a girls basketball game on Saturday at St. Mary’s High School.

SLEEPY EYE — Behind an improved defensive effort from the night before, the Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s girls basketball team cruised to a 67-23 win over Cleveland on Saturday afternoon on Day 2 of the St. Mary’s Tip-Off.

BOLD downed St. Mary’s 80-40 on Friday night and ended up defeating Sleepy Eye on Saturday also in the Tip-Off. The Knights handled the short turnaround well, though, never trailing the Clippers on Saturday and holding them to just 6 points in the second half.

“The negative thing was last night we didn’t play really well, got beat pretty bad, but the positive was you get to turn around and come right back, play another game, and against a team that we thought we were the better team,” Knights head coach Bruce Woitas said. “But I thought overall the biggest difference was defensively we were a little bit better. Last night we were letting BOLD do whatever they wanted.”

Woitas was also happy with the balanced scoring he got out of his team against Cleveland, led by eighth-grader Morgan Mathiowetz’s 24 points. Freshman Natalie Fischer had 13 points for the Knights, while Liz Schwint had 10 points and eight rebounds, Addie Hoffmann had 9 points and Allie Labat had seven rebounds.

Schwint, a 6-foot senior forward, also had little issues finding open teammates cutting to the basket when the Cleveland defense covered her in the post.

“Liz, No. 1, she’s a great rebounder, great defender in the post, but she’s also a great passer and she continues to do that,” Woitas said. “This year, we need to look to her to be more of a scorer for us as well, and she did that a little bit today, she’s just got to grow into that a little bit more. But she’s probably one of the top post-type passers in the game for that backdoor cut, so she can really feed her teammates well and they’ve got be ready for that.”

Mathiowetz, who also had nine rebounds, four steals and two assists against Cleveland, also led the Knights on Friday night against BOLD with 15 points in her first varsity start.

Filling the shoes of her sister Madison, who graduated from St. Mary’s earlier this year as the school’s all-time leading scorer, will be far from an easy thing to do. But Woitas is excited to see how far Morgan Mathiowetz’s potential can carry her this year and beyond.

“Morgan’s obviously a player that’s invested a lot of time in the game as well, has a good sense for the game and the court and different things,” Woitas said. “And that’s going to benefit her as she continues to grow as a player, and it’ll be fun to watch her develop over the years as well.”

Schwint got the Knights going off the opening tip, tipping the ball to Mathiowetz, who scored on an easy layup for a 2-0 lead. Fischer converted an and-one moments later off an inbounds pass to put the Knights up 5-0.

After increasing their lead to 9-2, the Clippers cut into the deficit and trailed 13-10 after a 3 by Kaylee Karels. But Fischer sank back-to-back 3s before driving inside for 2 and a 21-10 lead.

Late in the first half, the Knights put together a 14-0 run that was capped off on a jumper from Kiara Murphy and a bucket inside by Mathiowetz to lead 41-15. A basket inside by Jaylynn Sellner in the final 10 seconds of the half put the Knights up 43-17 at halftime.

Mathiowetz took over early in the second half, opening the half with a free throw, a layup and a 3 to put the Knights up 49-17 and force a Cleveland timeout. The Knights’ largest lead of the night, 66-20, came in the final 10 minutes of the game during running time on a 16-foot jumper by Mathiowetz.

The Knights (1-1) host Waterville-Elysian-Morristown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in nonconference action.

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