After picking up its tenth consecutive victory early last week over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, the Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball team finally met its match in conference rival Norwood Young America.
In a 61-51 game at NYA Central on Jan. 31, the Crusaders struggled in the first half, missing all four free-throw attempts and 11 layups on 12 steals.
With one minute to play in the game, the Crusaders trailed by six, but that last minute fared well for NYA Central, as the Raiders extended their lead to 10.
LHS head coach Dan Perrel said the game was a perfect storm.
“We couldn’t have played much worse, but Central did in fact play very well,” he said.
The Crusaders shot just 29 percent on the night, making 13 of 44 two-point attempts and six of 27 three-pointers (22 percent). Free throw shooting improved in the second half, as LHS made five of six.
Juniors Cole Buttenhoff and Anthony Gruenhagen led the Crusader charge with 10 points each, followed by senior Tanner Luebke (8), senior Phil Burfeind (7), junior Mason Diedrick (6), junior Mike Vigil (5), junior Brandon Wroge (3), and junior Joel Burfeind (2).
The Crusaders committed only seven turnovers during the game, but the low number wasn’t enough to win.
“Normally, in my opinion, you have a pretty good chance that you’ll win, if you keep your turnovers in the single digits,” Perrel said. “Well, that didn’t work out, but only because having low turnovers only is important if you actually make the shots on the other end of the floor.”
Perrel quoted legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden and said that all people, and teams, will fall short on occasion but learning from failure allows avoidance of repeated mistakes.
“Central has given us a good gift,” Perrel said. “The opportunity to learn from mistakes, give serious attention to our level of team and personal discipline, and move forward with resolve to do better.”
Perrel said winning can be a distraction from the need to constantly work for improvement.
With an 11-6 season record, the Crusaders are still battling for a conference title. With a 7-2 MRC record, they trailed Jordan (8-1). The two teams faced off on Feb. 5.
After Tuesday, both teams have four conference games remaining in the season. The Crusaders will host Belle Plaine tomorrow, Feb. 8, and play at Spectrum on Feb. 12.
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