A premature end to the 2013-14 season greeted the Mayer Lutheran boys’ basketball team in New Prague Friday night.
The No. 1 South-seeded Crusaders were upset by the No. 4 LeSueur-Henderson Giants in a 66-62 game in the second round of Section 2AA play.
While Mayer Lutheran may have lost for a variety of reasons, LHS head coach Dan Perrel said LeSueur-Henderson won because of their exceptional play.
“They did exactly what they had to do,” he said. “For instance, they made 20 of 23 from the free throw line. They made threes when they got them.”
The first half remained tight between the teams, with neither team leading by more than a few baskets at any given point. Mayer Lutheran held a slight 24-22 lead at halftime.
The Crusaders had chances in the second half to snag the victory, but slippery hands and too many missed shots proved too hard for LHS to overcome. From about the eight minute mark on down to the end, the Crusaders trailed the Giants, getting as close to a win as a 61-60 deficit with 41 seconds to play. But successful free throws by LeSueur-Henderson and forgone opportunities by the Crusaders would lead to their defeat, a 66-62 loss.
“Coach Marcussen prepared [the Giants] exactly where they needed to be to beat Mayer Lutheran,” Perrel said. “They shot well, made their free throws, and played hard from beginning to end. That is how it is supposed to be done. My hat is off to them for their excellent execution and their ability to play well under playoff stress.”
For Mayer Lutheran, seniors Anthony Gruenhagen and Chad Anenson were the only Crusaders in double digits, netting 16 and 10 points, respectively. Also scoring for LHS was senior Joel Burfeind (8), senior Mason Diedrick (7), sophomore Sam Schlueter (7), junior Taylor Otterstatter (6), senior Cole Buttenhoff (4), and senior Brandon Wroge (3). Burfeind dished out 10 of the team’s 17 assists, followed by Anenson (5).
As a team, the Crusaders shot 57 percent from two-point range, making 26 of 46 shots including good nights by Otterstatter (3-3), Anenson (5-8), and Gruenhagen (7-11). They were frigid at the three-point line, missing all 12 attempts.
At the free throw line, the Crusaders shot 50 percent (9-18). Also on offense, Mayer Lutheran turned the ball over 22 times.
Defensively, the Crusaders outrebounded the Giants 43-27 including 17 offensive rebounds.
Mayer Lutheran finished the year with an 18-6 record and captured the Minnesota River Conference title with a 12-2 conference record. Look for a full season wrap up in the coming weeks.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com