Update: Mayer Lutheran upset No. 2 HLWW on March 12 in a 47-45 contest. The Crusaders will face Annandale this Friday, March 15 in the Section 5AA finals at St. Cloud State University, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
What began as an 0-5 season has turned into a deep section run for the LHS boys’ basketball team, landing in this week’s semifinals.
After defeating No. 5 seeded Norwood Young America on March 7, the No. 4 Cruasders upset No. 1 Jordan in the Section 5AA – South playoffs. The Crusaders advanced to the section semifinals, playing No. 2 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted on March 12.
Mayer Lutheran 52, NYA 37
After having lost to Norwood Young America in their last meeting on Jan. 31, the Crusaders rose to the challenge in the first round of Section 5AA on March 7, defeating the Raiders 52-37.
Holding a 21-12 halftime lead, Mayer Lutheran outscored NYA 31-25 in the second half for the win.
Senior Tanner Luebke (12) and junior Joel Burfeind (11) led the Crusaders in scoring, followed by junior Cole Buttenhoff (8), junior Mason Diedrick (8), junior Anthony Gruenhagen (4), senior Phil Burfeind (3), junior Brandon Wroge (3), and freshman Sam Schlueter (3).
Mayer Luth. 60, Jordan 48
The Crusaders advanced to face the 2013 MRC champion Jordan Hubmen on March 9. Mayer Lutheran jumped out to a 26-19 halftime lead, and led off Jordan 34-29 in the second half.
The Crusaders held Jordan to only three major point-scorers. Jake Andersen tallied half (24) of the team’s points, along with Brian Hartman (14) and Nate Beckman (9).
In contract, the Crusaders had eight players on the scoreboard, including Diedrick (14), Buttenhoff (11), Luebke (10), Joel Burfeind (10), Gruenhagen (5), Schlueter (5), junior Chad Anenson (3), and Phil Burfeind (2).
The Crusaders shot 50 percent from two-point range (17-34) and were 17-31 at the free throw line.
On defense, Mayer Lutheran outrebounded Jordan 31-13, but Jordan had seven more steals on LHS and committed nine fewer turnovers.
LHS head coach Dan Perrel said the team’s main objective all season has been to play good defense. He said the better the opponent, the better the defense must perform, and in return, the better the defense performs, the less stress there is on the offense.
“If we are to continue to have success in tournament play, then we have to continue to make it extremely challenging for the opponent to score,” he said. “The real challenge though, it that defense isn’t fun and isn’t glamorous. It’s just plain old hard work.”
With the wins over NYA and Jordan, Mayer Lutheran earned a spot in the Section 5AA semifinals, taking on No. 2 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted on March 12.
Mayer Lutheran is 17-10 this season and finished second in the Minnesota River Conference.
HLWW is 21-7 on the season and also finished second in its Central Minnesota Conference. To reach the March 12 semifinal game, the Lakers defeated No. 7 Sibley East 71-62 on March 7 and pulled off a 72-64 overtime victory over No. 3 Glencoe-Silver Lake March 9.
The Lakers and the Crusaders have met just once this season, on Nov. 30 with HLWW winning 84-72 in overtime.
The winner of Mayer Lutheran/HLWW will advance to the Section 5AA finals on March 15 at St. Cloud State University. The Crusaders/Lakers will face the winner of the North division, either No. 1 St. Cloud Cathedral or No. 2 Annandale.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com