Crusader girls top TCU, Rockford

With a whole slew of conference games right around the corner, the Mayer Lutheran girls’ basketball team was 2-1 last week, picking up their first Minnesota River Conference win over Tri-City United and also besting Rockford, before falling to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.

Winning 70-65 at Rockford on Dec. 9, the game “was probably closer than it needed to be,” LHS head coach Kris Gustin said.

“We didn’t shoot too well and had too many turnovers,” he said. “We just let them linger.”

Leading 36-34 at halftime, Mayer Lutheran outscored Rockford 36-29 in the second half, shooting 43 percent from the floor during the game.

Twenty three turnovers proved costly for LHS, as the close score reflects, and Gustin said the team’s goal every game is less than 20.

“That’s kind of what we need to work on,” he said.

Senior Lauren Manteuffel led the LHS attack with 30 points, followed by senior Josie Peters (14), junior Maria Kuntz (9), and senior Shelby Sicheneder (8). Peters also had three of the team’s six steals.

On defense, Manteuffel pulled down 23 rebounds followed by Kuntz (8) and Peters (7).

Defeating Tri-City United in a 51-40 game on the road Dec. 12, the Crusaders dropped their turnovers to 19. With a 12-point lead at halftime, LHS opened up the game in the second half and led by as many as 20 points before Tri-City came back and outscored Mayer Lutheran 25-24 in the second half.

Neither team shot particularly well, Gustin said, as the Crusaders made just 17 of 51 shots and Tri-City made 13 of 54. Manteuffel (18) and Kuntz (14) were the only double-digit scorers of the game, while Peters added seven points.  Manteuffel also had a game-high 14 rebounds, while Peters had a game-high five steals.

“A lot of missed shots in that game,” Gustin said.

It was Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted’s press that would keep the Crusaders from their third win of the week as the Lakers took down LHS 74-60 on Dec. 14.

Twenty seven turnovers proved costly for the Crusaders, despite an improved 41 percent shooting (20-48).

“We threw the ball away too many times,” Gustin said. “[HLWW is] a very good team, very quick, very aggressive… I was overall pleased.”

Losing Manteuffel to an injury near the end of the first half, Gustin was pleased with the way the Crusaders covered for their leading scorer, balancing points between Peters (14), Sicheneder (14), and Kuntz (11). Sicheneder had a team-high 10 rebounds and two steals, while Kuntz pulled down eight boards.

LHS will host Belle Plaine Friday, Dec. 20 before hitting the road to the St. Olaf tournament Dec. 27-30, where the Crusaders are slated to play Bethlehem Academy, St. Paul Highland Park, and Providence Academy.