Crusaders pick up two MRC wins

The Mayer Lutheran girls’ basketball team is now fourth in the Minnesota River Conference, after picking up two MRC wins last week over Norwood Young America and LeSueur-Henderson. The Crusaders are now 8-4 in the conference behind a two-way tie for second place and are 14-8 overall.

LHS 46, NYA 44

Down by as many as nine points in the first half at NYA Central on Feb. 11, the Crusaders clawed their way back to a 23-23 halftime tie.

Then Mayer Lutheran built up to a nine-point lead in the second half, only to have the Raiders come roaring back to keep it close, assisted by some missed LHS free throws, according to head coach Kris Gustin. However, the Crusaders managed to sneak away with the tight 46-44 win.

“It was close for most of the game,” he said.

Rebounding was key during the game, as the Crusaders didn’t allow a single offensive rebound for NYA in the first half.

“We did a really good job on the boards, so that was a key for us,” Gustin said.

In all, the Crusaders outrebounded the Raiders 35-23. First half turnovers proved costly for LHS, as the Crusaders had 12 turnovers in the first 13 minutes of play, but then only 10 for the remainder of the game.

“We just took care of the ball much better, gives you an opportunity to score,” Gustin said.

The Raiders shot nearly 40 percent, while many of Mayer Lutheran’s shots came from outside shots, including five three-pointers from junior Brenna Larsen and two from senior Josie Peters.

“Seven threes overall against their zone,” Gustin said. “We didn’t (shoot well), but we were able to survive with good defense and good rebounding.”

The Crusaders shot 29 percent (16-55) from the floor and were 7-14 at the free throw line. Larsen was the only Crusader in double digits, netting 16 points. Peters and senior Krianna Boelke each scored nine points for the LHS effort.

Boelke grabbed 10 rebounds, the most of any Crusader, while defensive regulars Lauren Manteuffel and Shelby Sicheneder each snagged eight.

LHS 54, LeSueur 32

Hosting LeSueur-Henderson on Feb. 14, the Crusaders jumped out to a dominating 35-12 halftime lead, thanks to improved shooting by LHS, up to 42 percent for the game (21-49 shots), and a 19-4 run to close to half.

The Crusaders started the second half on an 11-3 run, but narrowly outscored the Giants 20-19 in that half, as LeSueur-Henderson was able to keep with Mayer Lutheran. The Giants first half deficit, however, was too much to overcome and Mayer Lutheran easily won it 54-32.

“The key was we were able to get the ball inside,” Gustin said.

Mateuffel was one of those inside players, scoring 16 points, while Peters added 12 for LHS. Larsen scored eight points.

On defense, Mayer Lutheran outrebounded the Giants 27-17, including 13 LHS offensive rebounds over LeSueur’s four. Top rebounders included  Manteuffel(50 and junior Maria Kuntz (5).

The team had 11 steals, with Peters (5) and Larsen (4) leading the way.

The Crusaders will close out the regular season at Watertown-Mayer tomorrow night, Feb. 21, and in a rematch against Sibley East at home on Monday, Feb. 24.

“We want to go to Watertown and play as well as we can to close out our conference season,” Gustin said.