The house was packed Monday night at St. Mary's, when the Indians boys basketball team stepped into Knights territory.

The house was packed Monday night at St. Mary’s, when the Indians boys basketball team stepped into Knights territory.

Indians 85

Knights 78

Both local teams had an up and down season before the holiday break, with plans to refocus and improve key weaknesses. The Monday night game allowed both teams to see the fruits of their labor.

The game got going with Knight Colin Ludewig sinking a layup, and Indian Ben Laffen matching him, going 2-2. After matching it up at 4-4, Indian Carter Brinkman set Sleepy Eye up for the lead, sinking a three. Jon Mickelson and Avery Stevens both hit the rim, to give the Indians an edge at 11-4.

Not long after, Indian senior, Zach Haala, ran the court all the way to the rim for a slam dunk—then hit the floor hard. “The intensity really kicked in,”Haala said. “I worked on my vertical over the summer.” That was the spark the Indians needed. With patience, and some well timed passes, they built their way to a 47-30 lead at halftime. Not satisfied with one, Haala threw down another dunk in the first half before the clock ran out. “We moved the ball,” Indians coach Shane Heiderscheidt said. “We get open looks when we make the extra pass, and we played real defense.”

Mickelson owned the beginning of the second half, getting the ball on three possessions. He sank them all for six more points on the mountain the Indians were building. For the Knights, Nick Labat and Michael Sloot kept them in the game with a three and a layup.

At the midway point of the second half, the Indians were sitting at 72-47 and it looked like things were over for St. Mary’s. The boys weren’t ready for that however; mix that with a more relaxed Indians’ defense and you had the makings of a powerful comeback. “I was pleased to see we kept playing hard,” said Knights coach Tim Milliard. “It can be demoralizing to be down by that much, but they stayed with it.”

Ten Knights’ three-pointers dropped almost back to back and the Indians struggled with possessions. Carter Currans, Labat, Dalton Meyer and Blake Steffensmeier led the way as the Knights climbed within seven points. “We took care of the ball and had way less turnovers,” Labat said. The Indians ultimately won sinking their free throws in the final two minutes of the game.

For the Knights, Labat led with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Currans shot 14 and got five rebounds, with Dalton Meyer next with 14 points and three rebounds.

Haala led the attack for Sleepy Eye with 26 points. Stevens contributed to the win with 17 points and Carter Brinkman followed with 15 points.

The Indians host GFW Friday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The Knights host MVL Friday as well starting at 7:30 p.m.