Steffensmier hits 1,000 point milestone as Knights advance to Class A semifinals

Kip Kovar, Special to the Herald-Dispatch

Playing in the state tournament is a special feeling. Scoring your 1,000th career point isn’t far behind.

For Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s junior, Trent Steffensmeier, that all came on one night as he reached that milestone in an impressive 86-73 win over Central MN Christian in the Class A state quarterfinals Wednesday night at Mankato East High School.

“It’s a night to remember,” Steffensmeier said. “It’ll be there for the rest of my life. It was a great feeling to celebrate with my teammates.”

Knight Trent Steffensmeier finished with a game-high 30 points, including his 1,000th career point.

Steffensmeier came into the game needing 15 points to reach1,000 in his career. He did that in the first half—on a free throw late, giving the Knights a 14-point lead at the half.

“He’s kind of our energy guy,” SESM coach Judd Walter said. “He’s extremely talented at getting to the hoop and can hit the outside shot. Carson [Domeier] was a little banged up, and Trent kind of had that energy and was our spark.”

Steffensmeier finished with a game-high 30 points and the Knights needed them all. Even with a 17-point lead late, the Bluejays refused to go away quietly.

“Give them a lot of credit,” Walter said about CMC. “They hit some crazy and timely buckets. It just seemed like each time we had a little comfort, they were knocking down shots and coming back. We were consistently having to execute on the offensive end. They trust each other to step up and they did an excellent job of closing the game.”

The Bluejays got within eight on two occasions, but the Knights fell back on what got them to this spot in the first place.

“We just had to band together,” Steffensmeier said. “Just stay as a team and keep the positivity going. Everyone hit timely shots and we just kept pulling ahead. We don’t get mad at each other for shooting. We trust everyone with the ball at all times. We knew they’re going to hit the open shots. It’s just great to have that trust.”

SESM had all five starters score nine or more points in the win led by Steffensmeier’s 30 points. Kaleb Wait and Carson Domeier each had 16, while Kyle Goblirsch (13 points) and Jacob Lux (9 points) each played well. Senior Braden Hansen chipped in 2.

“We’re really dangerous,” Steffensmeier said. “We can do a lot of stuff offensively. That makes us a lot more dangerous.”

“This group is something special,” Walter added. “They care for each other and trust each other. You can tell. They know where each other is on the floor. They play so much basketball and they’ve been playing together for a while in our system.”

With the win, SESM advances to the Class A state semifinals where they will take on Hancock Wednesday, April 7 at the Target Center at 10 a.m. Hancock knocked off top-seeded Nevis 57-50 in the quarterfinals. While the Knights are happy with reaching the semifinals, they’re not satisfied with just that.

“We want to go all the way,” Steffensmeier said. “That’s what our team is built for. We feel like we can make a good run. There’s a lot of good teams there, but I feel like we can play with them. If we play our best basketball, I think we can win.”

The message from Walter after the win over CMC was simple. They’re not done yet.

“Stay hungry,” Walter said. “Playing at Target Center is going to be sweet, but we’re going on a business trip. We have bigger goals. All four teams left are very talented, but we feel we’re right up there with them. We want to go down there and win.”