The Sleepy Eye Indians boys basketball team traveled across town to play the St. Mary’s Knights for a second time this season on Thursday, Feb. 9 and boy, what a game it was.

The Sleepy Eye Indians boys basketball team traveled across town to play the St. Mary’s Knights for a second time this season on Thursday, Feb. 9 and boy, what a game it was.

St. Mary’s 83

Sleepy Eye 74

The gym was packed and people were standing to see the game. Knights’ freshman, Nick Labat, put his team on the scoreboard with a three-pointer, after a tense two and a half minutes of back and forth rebounds. The Indians played some hard defense in the first half. The Knights are known for their ability to sink three-pointers and the Indians nearly shut down those opportunities. “We had a plan and we did it,” said Indians head coach Shane Heiderscheidt. “We contested their three pointers and kept them from getting them.”

“We tried to limit our turnovers and get shots up,” said Knight Cole Owens. “We just weren’t making our shots in the first half like we wanted to.” At no point in the first half were the Knights able to pull ahead by more than four points. “We never got any good separation,” said Knights head coach Tim Milliard. “We never felt comfortable, they are a capable team and they have some good shooters.” At half-time the Indians trailed by one point, 28-27, and it was still anyone’s game.

In a repeat of the start of the game, Labat sank another three-pointer at the open of the second half. The game then became a back and forth of points, as the Indians fought to close the gap. Indian Carter Brinkman sank a layup on the rebound. “My teammates help me a lot,” Brinkman said. “They create opportunities and I get to drive the lane.” Knight Owens came back to score a three and Indian Ben Laffen responded with a three-pointer of his own, putting the game at 34-32, Knights.

Knights—Labat and Owens—together put five points on the board to widen the gap. It was at this point, a very questionable travelling call was made on the Indians’ Gemmill while he was pulling down a rebound. In spite of that, Indian Zach Haala got the ball and sank a three-pointer. Owens then got to the free throw line and missed his two shots.

Indian Haala grabbed the rebound and sank another three. In an epic moment of hope, Indian Laffen broke through the screen and tied the game at 40-40. Half the gym erupted in celebration. This tie, however, was short-lived. Knight Owens sank a free throw and Carter Currans shot a three, putting the Knights up by four. The crowd erupted at several back to back referee calls that neither side really seemed to agree with, and tensions on the court visibly grew.

Indian Avery Stevens put up two points to bring the score closer, but Currans responded with a second three-pointer and the holes started to show in the Indians defense. Indian Gemmill put in two points off of a rebound.

With eight minutes on the clock, Indian Jon Mickelson fouled out and the Knights pulled ahead by eight. As the game was coming to a close the Indians gave the Knights too many opportunities at the free-throw line. In spite of this, the game remained a close contest as Christensen got time at the free throw line and Nathan Walter sank a layup for the Indians.

The Indians have been playing as a more unified team in the last few games, in spite of the losses they have suffered, and that teamwork showed on the scoreboard. “We’re playing a lot better as a team,” said Brinkman. “We share the ball more and we look out for each other. We don’t keep it to ourselves and we’re not selfish with it.”

With time running down, Knight Nick Labat put in two free-throws. The Indians moved to take the ball and in a surprising act of bad sportsmanship, Indian Christensen was sent to the floor by a Knights player who seemed to forget he wasn’t playing football. Labat got more time at the free throw line and sank both shots, giving the Knights a ten point lead over the Indians, 79-69..

Walter made another layup and Brinkman shot a three-pointer. At the close of the game, Alex Woitas got to the free throw line and found the rim both times, to put the final score at 83-74.

“The free throws really made the difference since we we’re having difficulty getting to the three-point line,” Milliard said. “It was a good team win and I am very pleased with how we played.” Commenting on the second half, Heiderscheidt said, “We let them have 10 three pointers and didn’t follow through on our plan.”

The Knights were led by Cole Owens with 25 points. “We got more three-pointer in the second half,” said Owens. “Labat and Woitas played some good ball tonight.” Labat scored 20 points, followed by Currans with 12 and Woitas with 11.

The Indians were led by Brinkman with 14 points. Laffen scored 12 points and Haala put up 11 points.