The No. 3 Mayer Lutheran girls’ basketball team was knocked from the Section 2AA tournament last week after a loss to No. 2 Jordan.
In a close 49-46 loss on March 6 in Northfield, the Crusaders were up 15-8 in the first half, before the Jaguars began to chip away.
“We had a good roll going, made some shots early,” Gustin said.
But Jordan’s persistence gave the Jaguars a two-point lead at halftime (29-27). In the second half the Jaguars adjusted their defense and narrowly outscored Mayer Lutheran 20-19 in the second half.
“Offensively we struggled to score,” Gustin said. “Every time we seemed to get a little bit of momentum or wind in our sails, their best player came down and scored.”
That best player, Madison Dean, would total 23 points for the game.
Across the board, the Crusaders and the Jaguars were evenly matched throughout the game.
“It’s about as even as you can get,” Gustin said.
The Crusaders shot 31 percent from the floor and were 11-16 at the free throw line. No Crusader scored double digits, but the scoring was balanced among the team. Sophomore Kalie Winter scored nine points for LHS, followed by senior Krianna Boelke (7), senior Josie Peters (7), junior Brenna Larsen (6), senior Lauren Manteuffel (6), senior Shelby Sicheneder (5), junior Maria Kuntz (4), and freshman Emilee Gustin (2). Peters dished out three assists, while freshman Sophie Flucas had two.
Mayer Lutheran won the rebounding battle 33-31, but committed 21 turnovers while only forcing 12 on Jordan. Top rebounders for the Crusaders included Kuntz, Manteuffel, and Sicheneder, who each had seven. Flucas, Manteuffel, and Sicheneder each blocked a shot as well.
“One of the keys we talked about was the ability to beat them on the boards,” Gustin said.
Earlier in the week, the Crusaders host No. 6 Trinity School at River Ridge and easily topped the Tri Hawks 72-28.
Mayer Lutheran started out, according to Gustin, but went on a 13-3 run before halftime, leading 26-14 at the break. The Crusaders came out on a 23-3 run in the second half and again limited Trinity School to 14 points, while netting 46 of their own.
“We just kind of opened the game up from that point and took control,” Gustin said.
Mayer Lutheran’s offense was a coordinated effort, with Sicheneder leading the way at 15 points. Kuntz netted 14 on a perfect 6-6 night plus 2-2 at the free throw line, followed by Peters (10) and Larsen (8). The Crusaders dished out many assists, the most coming from Gustin (7), Boelke (5), and Larsen (5).
Gustin said the difference between the first half shooting (33 percent) and the much higher 75 percent second half was execution.
“When you run your plays correctly, they tend to work,” he said.
On defense, the Crusaders won the rebounding battle 30-13, including 9 rebounds from Sicheneder and 7 from Boelke, who also snagged a team-high four steals.
Mayer Lutheran limited its turnovers to just 10, while forcing 24 turnovers out of the Tri Hawks.
The Crusaders finished the season 17-11 overall. Look for a full season wrap up in the coming weeks.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com