You could have put a fork in them. The St. Mary’s Knights were as done as a Sunday pot roast. The Buffalo Lake-Hector Mustangs had them buried in a 28-47 hole at halftime and the margin could have been greater. Cold shooting, no defensive or offensive rebounding, turnovers and a full court pressing defense by the Mustangs had St. Mary’s looking like anything but the first place team in the Tomahawk Conference. The Knights were on a seven game winning streak and looked as though they were going to run away with the conference. The win streak came to a sudden and painful halt Monday night. BL-H played aggressive, inspired basketball. Kyle Kubesh, a 6’5” post player, was killing the Knights inside, outrebounding and scoring on several put-backs and Ben Maiers confidently ran the offense for the Mustangs. It looked like the mistake-prone Knights could do nothing to stop them. A dejected but angry team stumbled into the locker room at the half.
The second half started much like the first half with BL-H adding to their lead. But then St. Mary’s caught fire. The defense picked up, shots started dropping, especially three-pointers, and the team came out of their slump. Kyle Krzmarzick, Scott Salfer and Brady Hansen came off the bench and played old-fashioned rough and tumble playground basketball. The trio scored some key baskets that started a comeback that built momentum as the game progressed. The starters found their game, especially Sean Mathiowetz who had several steals and breaks to the basket, and they were helped when the Mustangs began to unravel a bit. It seemed they just couldn’t believe their comfortable margin was shrinking minute by minute. With only minutes to go, the Knights came to within four points, then two points. It looked like St. Mary’s was going to pull off a tremendous comeback, but then their shooting cooled off and they just couldn’t seal the deal. The game ended 62-64 with a relieved-looking Mustang team walking off the court shaking their heads.
When asked what the Knights should take away from this game, coach Tim Milliard said, “You have to be ready to play and we weren’t. Our energy level in the first half was low. Maybe we thought that since we beat BL-H by 17 points the last time we played them the boys thought this would be easy, but the Mustangs are a good team and I knew they were going to give us trouble. They are a big team and know how to use their height to good advantage. This was a good wake up call for us. Nobody is going to give us anything. We are still in first place. But staying there isn’t going to be easy.”
11 points, 11 rebounds
Brady Hansen: 11 points
Adam Sellner: 8 points
Scott Salfer: 8 points
St. Mary’s 67
St. Mary’s played an away Tomahawk Conference game at Wabasso Jan. 27 and came away with the win. The game got off to a slow start for both teams. The Knights were able to speed up the tempo of the game toward the end of the first half and steadily built up a lead and sustained it through the second half. Very few fouls were called in the game, with the Rabbits putting up only three free-throws and St. Mary’s only four. “This was another good road win against a conference team,” said Milliard. “We didn’t get off to a strong start, but we stayed patient and created some turnovers with our defensive pressure.”
20 points, 11 rebounds,
Kansas Adams: 18 points
Jon Milliard: 10 points,
St. Mary’s is now 9-2 in conference play and overall 13-4.