The Mayer Lutheran girls’ basketball team wrapped up the regular season this week with a 71-51 victory over Sibley East on Monday.
The Crusaders finished the regular campaign 16-10 overall, 10-4 in the Minnesota River Conference, good enough for a third place tie with Watertown-Mayer.
Hosting Sibley East Monday night, the Crusaders took an early lead and held it for the rest of the game.
“We jumped out on them,” LHS head coach Kris Gustin said. “We came out really strong.”
Leading by 18 points at halftime, Gustin said the Crusaders have worked in recent weeks to make their first half play as strong as their second, where they defeated the Wolverines 71-51.
“I just felt that our first half performances have been very good, both against Sibley East and Watertown,” he said. “We just kind of came out and set the tone from the get-go that we meant business.”
Friday night’s game at Watertown-Mayer was pushed to Saturday afternoon because of the weather. So on Feb. 22 in a midday game, the Crusaders topped the Royals 51-48 on the road.
Mayer Lutheran kicked off with an 11-0 run, and led 27-22 at halftime, despite losing senior Lauren Manteuffel to a knee injury five minutes in.
“Being able to pull out a win without her is great for the rest of the girls,” Gustin said.
Although the Royals mounted a second half run, bringing the game as close as 31-30 and outscoring LHS 26-24, the Crusaders held on for the narrow victory.
The Crusaders were hot on the floor, shooting 50 percent (20-40), complimented by a 7-12 night at the free throw line. LHS outrebounded Watertown-Mayer 34 boards to 19, including 25 defensive rebounds to the Royals’ 11.
Scoring was balanced for LHS, with the majority of the points coming from Emilee Gustin (12), Kuntz (8), Winter (8), and Sicheneder (7).
Sicheneder led the team on defense with 15 rebounds, followed by Kuntz (8).
Earlier last week, the Crusaders lost two games to non-conference teams, a 69-58 loss to Hutchinson on Feb. 17 and a close 61-60 loss to St. Peter the next night. Kuntz was the only player in double digits against Hutchinson, scoring 17 points, while Manteuffel dominated the boards at St. Peter, scoring 24 points and pulling down 17 rebounds. Sicheneder also add 13 points to the LHS effort.
Section 2AA seedings were announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, with games set to begin Monday, March 3. Gustin anticipates the Crusaders will receive the No. 3 seed in the subsection and are hoping for a home game Monday.
“We’re playing some of our best basketball right now,” he said. “We like our chances in our subsection.”
He emphasized that best basketball play is stemming directly from the seniors on the team, who were recognized Feb. 24 for their contributions to the program and instilling a “gritty” style of play.
“Nothing real flashy, but we’re going out there and winning defensive possessions and doing the little things that we need to do the be successful,” he said.
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