The St. Mary’s girls basketball team split its two most recent games.

The St. Mary’s girls basketball team split its two most recent games.

On Jan. 3, the Knights hosted Minnesota Valley Lutheran where the Chargers won 63-58. It was a tight game throughout, as both teams were quick on the ball but it was Minnesota Valley Lutheran who came out on top in a 28-24 first half.

The scores were nearly identical in the second half. St. Mary’s stepped up on offense with more runs toward the basket. But the Knights couldn’t get a lead going as their defense gave up just as many points. St. Mary’s had a tough time holding back MVL’s Anna Munsen, who put up 22 points in the game. The biggest factor in the loss however, was in free throws. The Chargers made 21 of 28 from the foul line, while St. Mary’s mustered up just eight of 18.

The Knights were led by junior Sabrina Portner, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Behind her was senior Larissa Helget, who recorded 12 points on the night. Meanwhile, junior Becca Schmitz scored 11 and had 10 rebounds. Senior Nikki Carr added 10 points and five assists in the game.

St. Mary’s Coach Bruce Woitas thought his team did a good job keeping the game close.

“I like how we played tonight, we had good balance and we stayed in the game throughout,” Woitas said. “We need to keep getting better.”

On Jan. 7, the Knights snapped a four-game losing streak with a 61-36 win over Cedar Mountain/Comfrey.

St. Mary’s took an early 8-3 lead but the Cougars quickly caught up. CMC put in a three to make it 21-22 with two minutes left in the first. The Knights only had a one point advantage at 24-23 to end the first half.

It was the second half when St. Mary’s pulled away and never looked back. The Knights were led by senior Larissa Helget, who made multiple baskets in transition after St. Mary’s showed solid defense all throughout the second. Junior Becca Schmitz excelled under the hoop on both offense and defense, using her length to grab rebounds and defend, while putting in some easy shots on offense as well.

Junior Laura Pelzel brought the lead to ten at 36-26 with a three pointer with just over nine minutes left. It was a very physical second half, as CMC never gave up and tried just about everything in their playbook to get the momentum back. But the Knights seemed to do better and better. St. Mary’s capitalized on a few breakaways which led to several unanswered points and the Knights went on to win big.

Woitas said his team did a nice job improving over the holiday break.

“We worked really hard over break in the practices that we had, trying to get more balance and working a lot on our outside shooting, and I think we’re starting to see that,” Woitas said.

Helget had a game-high 23 points, along with making five turnovers on the night. Next was Schmitz, who tallied 15 points, six rebounds, and four turnovers. Carr recorded 10 points and three assists, while senior Jamie Marti had six points, five defensive rebounds, and made five turnovers.

The Knights are now 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the Tomahawk Conference. Wabasso is leading the conference with over six wins, while Sleepy Eye Public, Minnesota Valley Lutheran, and Cedar Mountain/Comfrey are all tied for second with six wins.