MAYER – It’s not even Christmas yet, but the matchup between the BOLD Warriors and Mayer Lutheran Crusaders certainly had a playoff feeling to it. With the teams competing in a loaded Section 2A, the Crusaders and Warriors both knew how important of a game this was. In the end, the Crusaders held off the Warriors’ late push to pick up a 66-63 victory at home Tuesday night.
“We talked about it being a section game,” Mayer Lutheran coach Patrick Buchanan said. “It’s more important than any other game we’ve played thus far. It was a section opponent, and our placement in this tough section we have, that was important.”
Despite knowing how big of a game it was, the Crusaders got off to a shaky start in their biggest game of the season thus far. At the half, Mayer Lutheran was 0-for-9 from 3-point range, committed 12 fouls, and turned the ball over 10 times. Despite their sloppy play, the Crusaders trailed by just five points at the break.
“It was pretty much ‘go out and play basketball the way we know we can as a team’,” Buchanan said about the talk during halftime. “I thought we were individuals out there in the first half. We were lackadaisical with the ball. We were just out there like BOLD was no one. BOLD’s 4-0. I think we walked out there looking past them.”
After their slow start, Buchanan ignited a fire in his team at halftime, and they came ready to play.
“Our coach just told us that we need to come out with fire and play as a team in the second half,” Baden Noennig said. “That’s exactly what we did. We played good defense, and we just came out with fire, and that’s what we needed.”
The Crusaders came roaring out of the gates in the second half. Noennig opened the half by scoring the first seven points for the Crusaders, and a basket from Garrett Tjernagel gave Mayer Lutheran its first lead of the game since 9-8 in the first half.
After a strong start to open the half, the Crusaders continued to work as one, rather than relying on themselves. After BOLD’s Jordan Sagedahl picked up his fourth foul with just over seven minutes to go, Cole Hagen drained a corner 3-pointer to put Mayer Lutheran up 49-43.
“I had to get after them,” Buchanan said. “They got to understand that they have advantages. They need to take advantage of them. We, as a team, do. Once we do the things together as a team, whether it’s going inside or whether it’s some open looks for shots, we got to do it as a team. I think we locked in more defensively.”
Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, Dec. 15 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.
Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports