After a rocky start to the season, in which the Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball team was just 1-5, things seemed to have taken a turn for the better for the Crusaders, who picked up two more wins last week.
Despite their still losing record (4-5), the Crusaders are surprising the other teams in the Minnesota River Conference. With a 2-1 conference record, Mayer Lutheran is currently tied for second with Jordan and Norwood Young America.
Hosting Jordan on Jan. 3, the Crusaders took an early 29-14 first half lead. The gap continued into the second half, as the Crusaders outscored the Hubman 25-19, resulting in the 54-33 victory for Mayer Lutheran.
“Jordan was a tough team,” said Mayer Lutheran head coach Dan Perrell, noting that the two squads play with similar disciplines in patience and strength.
Junior Chad Anenson and senior Phil Burfeind topped the scoreboard for LHS, with 13 and 10 points respectively. Juniors Mason Diedrick and Anthony Gruenhagen each contributed eight points for the Crusaders, fololowed by junior Cole Buttenhoff (7) and junior Mike Vigil (4).
Perrell noted Burfeind as the team’s standout player of the game, and said Burfeind consistently plays solid defense for the team.
At Southwest Christian on Jan. 5, Mayer Lutheran saw a completely different team than Jordan. The Stars are young and scrappy, Perrell said, with freshman Jack Jensen scoring 14 of the Stars’ 19 first half points. LHS led 28-19 at the break. Strong defense carried the Crusaders to the 61-47 victory, limiting Jensen to only seven second-half points.
Gruenhagen led the team with 21 points, followed by Vigil (10). Perrell said Gruenhagen played a smooth game, efficiently working through the Stars’ defense.
“They tried to play a zone, and he just took the zone apart,” Perrell said, adding that Vigil showed fantastic leadership on the court and had three “beautiful looking” three-point buckets in the first half.
The rest of the Crusader bench contributed evenly to the offensive effort and included Wroge (6), freshman Sam Schlueter (4), Buttenhoff (4), Luebke (4), Otterstatter (3), Anenson (3), junior Joel Burfeind (2), Phil Burfeind (2), and Diedrick (2).
Mayer Lutheran traveled to conference leader Belle Plaine on Jan. 8 to face the only undefeated team left in the MRC. Perrell called Belle Plaine “Jordan on steroids,” comparing the Tigers to the Hubman in terms of physicality, adding that Belle Plaine has size to boot, boasting 6-foot-9 senior Alec Koepp, who has signed to the U of M – Crookston next fall.
LHS will host Tri-City United tomorrow, Jan. 11.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]