Two big wins for the Crusader boys’ basketball team has boosted the team to 15-8 this season as the regular season ends this weekend. Mayer Lutheran defeated conference foes LeSueur-Henderson and Watertown-Mayer last week by double digit margins.
Mayer Lutheran 72, LS-H 55
Hosting the Giants of LeSueur-Henderson on Feb. 19, the Crusaders led the game from start to finish, opening a 45-23 lead at halftime. The first half was fast paced, littered with loose balls, causing players to jump, fall, and dive across the floor in hot pursuit.
Although the Giants would narrowly outscore LHS in the second half (30-27), Mayer Lutheran’s first half gap would carry the team to victory.
Junior Anthony Gruenhagen dominated on offense, leading the Crusader attack with 20 points. Senior Tanner Luebke was also in double digits, scoring 10. Eight other LHS players found themselves on the scoreboard including junior Cole Buttenhoff (9), junior Mason Diedrick (8), freshman Sam Schlueter (8), junior Brandon Wroge (5), junior Chad Anenson (4), senior Dustin Edmison (3), and senior Phil Burfeind (2).
Mayer Lutheran 74, W-M 40
At Watertown-Mayer on Feb. 22, the Crusaders and Royals faced off under excellent game conditions, according to LHS head coach Dan Perrel.
“Both schools had terrific student fan support so the cheering and the energy gave the game a real playoff feel,” he said.
The Crusaders found luck was in their favor against the Royals in the first half, opening up a 43-19 halftime lead on nine (of 12) sunk three-point shots. Perrel said the team had good looks at the basket.
“It isn’t, and won’t be our strategy to take that many 3’s,” he said, “but you’d have to be crazy not to be appreciative that your guys had the confidence to make them.”
Mayer Lutheran outscored Watertown-Mayer 31-21 in the second half to claim the victory.
Buttenhoff led the Crusaders with 18 points, one of four players in the double digits. Junior Mike Vigil (14), Gruenhagen (13), and Luebke (11) also put up big points for LHS, assisted by junior Joel Burfeind (5), Schlueter (4), Anenson (3), Phil Burfeind (3), and sophomore Taylor Otterstatter (2).
After missing both free throws in the first half, the Crusaders were 9-10 in the second to finish at 75 percent for the evening.
The Crusaders wrap up the regular season this week at Heritage Christian on March 1. In the meantime, Perrel said the team will focus on improving its basketball IQ and preparing for games when the shots may not fall.
“The realist in us knows this kind of night (Watertown-Mayer game) isn’t going to happen all the time and that we should walk away ready to really discipline ourselves in practice the next time so that we know how to bare-down when the tide flows the other direction,” he said.
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