Crusaders earn No. 3 seed

In yet another thrilling rivalry game, Central emerged victorious over Mayer Lutheran as they held on for a 72-68 win in NYA last Tuesday.

After a back and forth affair for much of the game, Central seemed to pull away late as they built a 58-49 advantage with under 8 minutes left including a pair of corner triples from Carter Clemensen and Kellen Erpenbach, a nice pass by Clemensen for a Reed Wischnack score inside and Logan Corlett knocking down a pair at the free throw line.

Central head coach Tom Doyscher said the Raiders utilized three different defensive schemes to prevent Mayer Lutheran from getting into a rhythm.

“They are a good team,” he said. “They are tough to stop defensively for us… It’s just a dog fight.”

Not relenting, the Crusaders came charging back as they went on 9-1 run as Branden Carlson hit a 3-pointer, McHayl Diedrick converted a jumper, Baden Noennig got a putback and, after a Erpenbach free throw, Mitchell Johnson scored inside to cut it to 59-58 with about 5 minutes left.

Central’s Zach Stockman then scored inside and the Raiders later took a 63-58 lead, but Baden Noennig made 3-of-4 from the line on two trips and Cole Hagen knocked down a triple to put the Crusaders up 64-63 with 2 minutes to go as the intensity increased.

Wasting no time, Erpenbach hit a 3-pointer to put Central back ahead and ignite the Raiders faithful, and Central, who shot just 15-24 from the line for the game, then made 6-of-6 down the stretch for the victory.

The game started well for both teams as Baden Noennig and Garrett Tjernagel got to the rim for Mayer Lutheran and Carter Clemensen and Cade Zellmann sparked Central as the teams went back and forth and were tied 34-all at halftime. Notably Cade Zellmann had numerous offensive rebounds for Central as he gave them a spark.

Neither team gained much of an edge in the second half until Cole Hagen hit a 3-pointer to put Mayer Lutheran ahead 48-44 with about 12 minutes to go and Central responded with a 14-1 run for the late advantage before the Crusaders responded.

Noennig had a game-high 23 points for Mayer Lutheran while Erpenbach scored 18 points for Central.

Mayer Lutheran had nine 3-pointers in the game, including four by Kobey Woolhouse.

“They are good shooters but we had to close out high and run them off the 3-point line,” said Erpenbach.

Doyscher said keeping Woolhouse to four made 3-pointers was big.

“We tried to find out where he was all the time,” said “(Woolhouse), (Noennig) and (Hagen). Just know where they were.”

MLHS 69 TCU 54

With the game tied at the half, the Crusaders came out with a defensive intensity that put the game in their hands on the way to a 69-54 win over Tri-City United.

“In the second half, you could just see the difference,” said coach Dan Perrel.

Mayer Lutheran has been able to score with the best of teams, but they have tried to step up their defense in recent weeks. Those efforts paid off Friday as they shut the door on the Titans.

Four Crusaders scored in double digits – Baden Noennig (18), Kobey Woolhouse (13), McHayl Diedrick (12) and Cole Hagen (11).

The win puts Mayer Lutheran’s record at 15-10 with one regular season game remaining.

The Crusaders earned the No. 3 seed and are set to host No. 6 Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity March 6. The winner will likely take on No. 2 Cleveland March 9 at 7:45 p.m. in St. Peter.