NORWOOD YOUNG AMERICA – In the first of two matchups between the Norwood Young America Raiders and Mayer Lutheran Crusaders, it was the Raiders who used their depth and length to take control of the MN River Conference with a 64-53 victory on their home court Thursday night. With the win, the Raiders moved to 6-0 in the MRC, while the Crusaders fell to 4-1 in conference play with the loss.
“We knew that their starting five was good,” Mayer Lutheran coach Kris Gustin said. “They had three or four girls come in and play some pretty big minutes off the bench. Hats off to them. They’re the best team in the conference right now until someone beats them.”
With the Raiders having the clear advantage inside with their height, Gustin and his team thought the momentum may have swung their way when NYA’s star player Bren Fox picked up her third foul in the first half, and was forced to sit the final nine minutes. When Fox left the game, the Crusaders had an 11-8 lead, and Gustin was hoping his team could extend that into a bigger lead before the half with Fox on the bench.
“I thought when Bren went out, I thought maybe that was our chance,” Gustin said. “She’s so good. She posts up so well and she’s such a big factor on the boards. We just couldn’t make shots. What really hurt us tonight was our passing. We didn’t use ball fakes like we needed to. We threw into their hands. They’re active and long. We certainly made it easy for them at times by not moving the ball well.”
Even without Fox, the Raiders continued to give the Crusaders fits on offense as they took over the game with their defense. In the last nine minutes without Fox, the Raiders closed out the first half on a 18-6 run to take a 31-18 lead into the locker room.
“They’re good,” Gustin said. “They play a really good zone defense. They mixed it up with two of them. One was a trapper. We knew that the high post was going to be available against the passive one, but our girls just didn’t do a great job of hitting the opposite like we worked on. They took our dribble penetration away, and that’s the strength of our team. It’s a tough matchup for us. Give a lot of credit to them. They played really well tonight defensively.”
Despite the loss, history was made by senior Mya Chmielewski. With 17 points in the game, Chmielewski became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,201 career points. Look for a full story on Chmielewski and her accomplishment in the Jan. 19 edition of the Herald Journal and online.
Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, Jan. 19 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.
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