The wins just keep coming for the Sleepy Eye Indians girls basketball team. The team, in the past three wins, has also demonstrated that they are a far better team than their seventh seed would have many believe. For the third time in just a week, the Indians have knocked off a higher seeded team. First was the upset of the second seeded, Minnesota Valley Lutheran in what was a very dramatic finish. Then Sleepy Eye closed the book on the third seeded New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds season, beating them on Friday night by a score of 57-42. Most recently, on Monday night, the Indians prematurely ended the season of Buffalo Lake/Hector/Stewart at Gustavus by a score of 60-56, clearly demonstrating that they are a tough team to beat.
The first half of the Cathedral game was marked by great defense and a lot of missed shots from both sides.
“We were outstanding on the defensive end. We had a game plan going in and the girls communicated and took away passing lanes so Cathedral couldn’t reverse the ball to get their flex offense going,” first year head coach Ryan Hulke commented.
“New Ulm played a 1-2-2 matchup and really got in our faces up top. Offensively we were not great, but good enough in the half court to score when needed.”
Sleepy Eye jumped to an early lead and never looked back. Cathedral tied things up at 17 each with 38 seconds to play in the first half, but a basket and a pair of foul shots by Claire Krumbach put the Indians back on top, 21-17 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Indians continued to grow the lead in the second half, helped in a big part by player of the game, Justine Gonzalez, converting Cathedral turnovers into points. Gonzalez finished the night with seven steals and 10 points.
The closest the Hounds came to gaining the lead was midway into the second half when they inched their way to within three making the score 33-30, but they couldn’t get any closer than that.
As the game moved toward the final buzzer, Hulke was loudly telling his team to be patient and not force things. Words that, in the end, paid off huge for the team. The steals kept coming, the baskets began finding the bottom of the net and the lead continued to increase and at the end of the night, Sleepy Eye walked away with a 57-42 defeat of the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds.
“Our defense really created offense for us in the second half and that was the key factor. Justine Gonzalez had her best game recording seven steals in which three were converted for layups,” Hulke commented.
“Obviously this is unexplored territory for the girls. But having the crowd we had Friday night really helped them get through tough times. It was absolutely amazing walking into the gym at 6:15 Friday and our fan section of the gym was already full, and the cheers we got walking on to the floor and to the locker room. That is what makes these games so much fun!” He concluded.
The Indians shot 46 percent from the floor, and were an amazing 89 percent from the free throw line, which paid off down the stretch. Claire Krumbach led the team in scoring with 14 points. She also added five steals and a pair of assists. Sydney Remus added 11 points, pulled in 11 rebounds and shot a perfect six for six from the line. Justine Gonzalez added 10 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and racked up seven steals.
Monday night the Indians traveled to Gustavus and tipped off against the BLHS Mustangs
When it comes to watching a great basketball game, tonight’s game between the Sleepy Eye Indians and Buffalo Lake/Hector/Stewart was it. Both teams came out to play, and the fans came out to cheer. And it was loud.
Sleepy Eye again jumped out to an early lead and held that lead for much of the first half. This lead was helped by an 8-0 scoring run by the Indians midway through the first half of play. BLHS wasn’t going to give up that easily, however, and repayed the favor by going on a 15-0 run of their own and emerging on the upside of the, 21-27 score as the first half came to a close.
As the second half of play began, BLHS continued putting up numbers and just four minutes into the second half, had what would be their largest lead of the game with a nine point, 34-25 lead over the Indians.
It was now the Indians time to repay the favor. More specificly, it was actually Claire Krumbach’s time to repay the favor. While the rest of the team hit a fair number of shots, Krumbach had remained somewhat silent on the offensive end of the game having a mere two points in the game at this point. She took control of her game, found what worked and put up multiple inside shots.
“I wasn’t happy with my first half at all. I had a slow start. I knew I had to do something and stepped it up in the second half,” Krumbach commented after the game.
Step up she did, putting up a total of 13 points in the second half, topped only by Sydney Remus who had 14 in half number two.
From this point, the Indians held a nice 5 point, 54-49, lead with just over a minute to play leaving BLHS no choice but to foul. The Indians got it done from the line sinking six of six to seal the 60-56 victory and grow the excitement as the team moves toward the next game.
“I’m so excited! Our team finally pulled it off. We’ve worked so hard every day in practice. We never stopped fighting throughout the game and that makes me so proud of everyone on the team,” commented Carissa Hillmer after the game.
“Man, we battled. We battled hard. We went up 20-10 there and let them back in it with their 17-1 run at the end of the first half. We battled all night. Claire Krumbach came out hard in that second half. That was our difference. We needed her inside instead of us shooting threes like we did in the first half. When Claire shows up to play, we’re a darn good team. Whether it’s Springfield or St. Clair, she’s going to have to show up Friday night,” coach Hulke commented.
Leading the scoring effort for the Indians, by my count, were Sydney Remus with 22 points and eight rebounds. Claire Krumbach put up 16 points and pulled down 10 boards. Carissa Hillmer added nine, with Jessica Busch adding seven.
The next game for the Indians will be against Springfield at 5 p.m., Friday, Mar. 9, at Gustavus with the winner being crowned the Section 2A champ and earning a trip to the state tournament.
There will be a free fan bus, sponsored by the Sleepy Eye Public School Basketball Boosters to the game on Friday. The bus will leave from in front of the high school at 3:30 p.m. Sign up for the bus by noon on Friday by calling the high school office at 794-7904. Come out and support the girls.