The St. Mary’s Knights entered Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers tied for first place in the Tomahawk Conference and needing a win to claim the undisputed championship. With that on the line, the Knights played a fast-paced game featuring tight defense and a balanced scoring offense that saw four starters achieve double digits. For most of the first half the two teams were evenly matched, with the score tied 20-20 at the seven minute mark. The Knights had success in driving the lane for layups as opposed to their usual mix of inside and outside shooting. That may have been due to the fact that Adam Sellner, one of their best outside shooters, sat out the game with an injured ankle. He can be deadly from the baseline corner with his three-point shot. Kansas Adams picked up some of the slack from behind the arc, hitting a few three-pointers to help St. Mary’s start to open a scoring gap. Sean Mathiowetz capped the first half action with a fast break dunk to give the Knights a 41-33 lead.
The second half opened with MVL deploying a full court pressing defense that gave St. Mary’s a few problems at first. “We hadn’t seen a pressing defense for a while,” said coach Tim Millard. “Most of our opponents think we are too fast as a team to use that kind of defense against us. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to move the ball up court against the Chargers, but we eventually got untracked.” The Knights kept up the offensive pressure and continued to put forth a solid defensive effort. With three minutes remaining St. Mary’s had a 20-point lead. Both teams played their reserves to close out the game, making the final score of 87-78 a little closer than the game really was.
Afterwards, as the team cut down the nets and celebrated their championship, Milliard said that he was pleased with how well his team played all year, especially down the stretch when they put together a six-game winning streak. “Most of these players have been together since grade school and the first year on the varsity, as freshmen, was pretty rough so I’m very happy for them. Now we have to get ready for the sub-section playoffs. As the top seed we get a bye in the first round and we’ll be up against some good teams, but we play in a tough conference and should be ready.”
St. Mary’s game stats
19 points, 10 rebounds,
5 assists, 4 steals
Jon Milliard: 18 points
14 points, 6 rebounds
Nate Siemers had 24 points for the Chargers.
St. Mary’s last game of the regular season is against Lake-Crystal- Wellcome-Memorial at home Feb. 24.
The Knights are 19-4 overall and 14-2 in conference play.