Mayer Lutheran girls’ basketball head coach Kris Gustin knew from the start of last Thursday’s playoff game that it was going to be a challenge to defeat Watertown-Mayer.
“It’s always tough to beat a team three times, we knew that,” he said.
The No. 4 Crusaders hosted the No. 5 Royals on Feb. 28 in the first round of Section 5AA – South girls’ basketball. The Crusaders started well, grabbing an early 14-5 lead. But as the Crusaders found themselves with four players with two fouls, the Royals would go on a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the half to tie the game at 14-14 at the break.
“That kind of shifted things,” Gustin said. “They had momentum and confidence.”
With nothing to lose, the Royals battled in the second half, improving their shooting percentage to nearly 50 percent, while the Crusaders continued to shoot like they had in the first half, only making one-third of their shots. Gustin said Mayer Lutheran’s strengths lie in putting the ball inside, a strategy the Royals were able to thwart.
The game came down to the final minutes as the score remained close, but key free throws for Watertown-Mayer down the stretch allowed the Royals to upset Mayer Lutheran 39-37.
“Hats off to [the Royals], they did a great job,” Gustin said.
Only four players scored for Mayer Lutheran during the game. Junior Lauren Manteuffel netted 16 points, closely trailed by senior Nico Schmidt. Manteuffel was 6-6 from the free throw line. Senior Holly Johnson added four points for LHS, including the team’s first basket of the game, while sophomore Brenna Larsen added three points. Senior Ashlyn Hucky had four of the team’s 11 assists.
With this loss, the season has come to an end for Mayer Lutheran. The Royals advanced to play No. 1 Providence Academy on March 2, losing 50-38.
Look for a full season wrap up of the LHS girls’ basketball team next week.
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