LHS vying for slice of MRC crown

Junior Anthony Gruenhagen takes a shot during the Crusaders' Jan. 22 win over Watertown-Mayer.
Junior Anthony Gruenhagen takes a shot during the Crusaders’ Jan. 22 win over Watertown-Mayer.

Currently tied with 7-1 conference records, the Jordan and Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball teams are battling for the Minnesota River Conference title as the season comes to a close in the coming weeks.

The Crusaders, who are currently 11-5 this season, picked up their seventh conference victory last week by defeating Watertown-Mayer in a close 68-60 game.

Hosting the Royals on Jan. 22, LHS head coach Dan Perrel said Watertown-Mayer came ready to play.

“Even though MLHS was ahead at half, it could have easily been the other way around,” he said. “Our D was not sharp. We were sluggish and they were energetic.”

The Crusaders held a narrow 26-21 halftime lead, which was quickly taken away in the second half thanks to the Royals’ energetic and urgent play.

“Fortunately for us, we started playing D with a sense of purpose about halfway through the second half and were able to slowly turn the game back into our favor,” Perrel said.

The Crusaders had a tough time stopping Watertown-Mayer senior Jacob Wandersee, who netted 22 points for the Royals.

“[He] did have a great game for WMHS,” Perrel said. “He was making threes from the bleachers that were nothing but net.”

On the Crusader side of the ball, junior Mike Vigil dominated the scoreboard with 20 points. He was 4-6 of three point shots and 4-7 in two-point shooting.

“Mike Vigil was a solid all-facets player for us again,” Perrel said. “Mike is a good example of a young guy working hard to improve his contribution to the team.”

Also scoring big for Mayer Lutheran was junior Joel Burfeind with 13 points. He was 3-4 from the field.

Freshman Sam Schlueter (7), senior Phil Burfeind (6), junior Mason Diedrick (6), senior Tanner Luebke (5), junior Chad Anenson (4), junior Anthony Gruenhagen (4), and junior Cole Buttenhoff (3) also score for LHS. Luebke was 5-6 from the free throw line, leading the Crusaders to a 55 percent success rate at the line.

The Crusaders won the battle of the boards 22-20, pulling down 14 offensive rebounds.

After starting the season 1-5, the Crusaders have won their last 10 consecutive contests, including a 71-57 win over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop on Jan. 28. Leading 41-28 at halftime, Mayer Lutheran narrowly outscored G-F-W in the second half (30-29), but the Crusaders early lead carried them to victory.

Five Crusaders scored in double digits including Vigil (16), Gruenhagen (14), Buttenhoff (13), Schlueter (11), and Luebke (10).

The Crusaders will play at Norwood Young America tonight, Jan. 31, and will be at Jordan on Feb. 5, before returning to host Belle Plaine Feb. 8.


Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]