After a week-and-a-half long holiday break, the St. Mary’s boys basketball team has started the year with a three-game winning streak.
Despite the hiatus, the Knights overcame a blunder of a first half to defeat Truman/Martin Luther 85-76 on Jan. 2. St. Mary’s was out-shot 37-34 in the first half, but was able to pull away in the second to take its first win of 2014. Coach Tim Milliard said his team played well despite the small amount of practice the Knights received over the break.
“It was good to just play a game, it feels like we’re rebooting the season but really that’s what it is,” Milliard said. “I think we had one day where everybody was at practice.”
St. Mary’s started the game well. The Knights were aggressive on both offense and defense. Mainly led my junior Payton Adams, who recorded 17 points in the game along with a couple of steals early in the first half. Alongside him was senior David Surprenant, who had a game-high 24 points, making four of six three-pointers. The starting five did a nice job penetrating the basket and shooting well under pressure.
However, Truman/Martin Luther got some momentum after it took a 30-28 lead in the first. A combination of tall centers along with some nice shooting from the outside gave Truman/Martin Luther the advantage. Junior Jay Helget made a three for St. Mary’s at the end of the half, but the Knights were behind by three.
Senior Mike Hirsch kicked off the successful second half for St. Mary’s with a three-point shot which brought the momentum back. After back-to-back leads, Surprenant made a big three, and followed with a three-point play. Another three by Helget brought the score to 64-66 still favoring Truman/Martin Luther, but a steal by the Knights and a three by senior John Brandl was what carried St. Mary’s to even more baskets and the win.
“I was really pleased to see in the second half the guys kept playing and staying with it and everything so it turned out to be a good win for us,” Milliard said.
Hirsch led the team in rebounds with seven while adding 15 points as well. Surprenant was next in rebounds with five. Brandl had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists, while Helget had 11 points and four rebounds.
A day later, the Knights added to their win total with a 83-75 overtime thriller over conference rival Minnesota Valley Lutheran on the road.
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A combination of physicality, speed, and opportunities under the basket allowed the Chargers to a 41-30 first half lead. But the game was far from over. St. Mary’s stepped up big in the second half, creating more turnovers and executing on offensive plays. The Knights had a total of 25 offensive rebounds on the night, which was crucial in their fight to gain back some points. Minnesota Valley Lutheran helped St. Mary’s in its effort, turning over the ball 27 times.
The Knights out-shot the Chargers 35-24 in the second half, which ended in a dead tie at 65. In overtime, St. Mary’s defense held MVL to just 10 points, while the offense put up 18 to take the win.
Brandl had a game-high 24 points, while Adams scored 23 and Hirsch had 19.
On Jan. 7, St. Mary’s traveled to Cedar Mountain/Comfrey where the Knights prevailed 97-77. St. Mary’s had a steady lead throughout the game. The Knights were quick to score and defended well against the Cougars throughout. St. Mary’s had a 50-36 lead at half.
Hirsch led with a game-high 18 points, followed by Adams who had 17 and Surprenant who had 16. Brandl and Rothmeier added 15 and 12.