NORTHROP - Each time the Truman/Martin Luther BluejayKnight hoopsters whittled St. James' lead to less than eight points on Thursday night, either Zach Brandts or Walker Froehling restored the Saints' double-figure lead.
Brandts scorched the Northrop nets on 14-for-20 field-goal shooting en route to a game-high 34 points, while Froehling nailed five 3s to pace a 24-point effort to fastbreak St. James to a 93-60 non-league basketball victory over TML.
"We kept pace with them for most of the first half, getting within six to eight points at times," BluejayKnight head coach Brian Borkenhagen said in reference to the game's frenetic NBA-like offensive pace that generated a combined 85 first-half points.
ONE-HANDER — St. James forward Zach Brandts (5) flips home a running one-hander over Truman/Martin Luther’s Alex Weihe (back) during nonconference basketball action Thursday night in Northrop. The BluejayKnights’ Sam Geistfeld (10) and Colton Greiner (right), along with the Saints’ Jordan Sandmeyer (23), watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Sam Geistfeld, who delivered a double-double performance of 16 points and a game-best 15 rebounds, matched Brandts nearly point-for-point during the run-and-gun clash's initial stages.
Unfortunately for TML, after Geistfeld's tip-in pared the Saints' lead to 10-7, St. James guard John Olsen served as the catalyst behind the visitors' ensuing 14-4 surge.
Olsen hit a putback basket before swiping the BluejayKnights' inbound pass for a layup. Olsen then spotted Brandts for a 3-pointer from the top of the key before Olsen chipped in a solo free throw.
Aaron Neumann, who generated 12 points and distributed a game-best six assists, hit a pair of cutters in the lane to sandwich Brandts' 360-degree baseline spin move. Brandts then hit back-to-back baskets to extend St. James' margin to 24-11 with 12 minutes left in the opening half.
Colton Greiner, who supplied 12 points for TML, countered with a right-wing 2-pointer and trifecta before Alex Weihe connected on a trey to narrow the home team's deficit to 26-19 only three minutes later.
Brandts, however, found his shooting rhythm by single-handedly producing eight straight points, including a trifecta and a traditional 3-point play, to rebuild the Saints' edge to 36-22 by the 7-minute mark.
Aaron Neumann spotted Adam Neumann for a backdoor basket to slice the BluejayKnights' gap to 45-37 with a minute remaining before halftime, but Froehling countered with a left-corner 3 with 27 seconds left to stake the Saints to an 11-point lead at the break.
"They controlled the boards during the second half, and that was the difference," Borkenhagen said in reference to St. James' 28-7 rebounding edge during the final 18 minutes.
While center Jordan Sandmeyer garnered half of his team-best 10 boards during the second half, Froehling and Brandts combined for 24 points to help trigger a pivotal 16-2 offensive avalanche that put the game out of reach.
Brandts worked the lane for his six points during the double-digit scoring surge, while Froehling buried back-to-back long-range 3s to eventually establish a 71-47 lead with 11 minutes to go.
Weihe finished with 12 points for the BluejayKnights, while Olsen netted 11 points for the Saints.
Truman/Martin Luther (2-2) travels to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton on Friday, Dec. 13, while St. James (3-0, 1-0 South Central) hits the road to Waseca next Thursday night.
Martin County West 68, Madelia 62 - Jake Faber produced a double-double performance of 14 points and 14 rebounds to help the Mavericks fend off the Blackhawks, 68-62, during Valley Conference action on Thursday night in Madelia.
Richard Eckmann tallied a team-best 17 points for MCW, while teammates Cordell Weber and Sam Baker contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, to the winning effort.
Jake Sinn pulled down 11 rebounds to add to Faber's game-high effort on the boards.
Derrick Van Hee connected on nine 3-pointers to generate a game-high 29 points to top Madelia, while teammate Garhouth Dak chipped in 10 points.
Martin County West (2-0, 1-0 Valley) travels to the Target Center in Minneapolis tonight to face Luverne in an 8:30 p.m. tipoff.
Madelia (2-2, 0-1) travels to East Chain School on Tuesday to face Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
St. Clair 71, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 53 - Brandon Goebel netted 17 points to top a balanced Cyclone scoring attack that downed the Mustangs, 71-53, during Valley Conference action Thursday night at East Chain School.
Austin Nagel contributed 15 points to St. Clair's winning ways, while teammate Ryan Kruse supplied 14 points.
Ryan Shumski and Trent Stensland each produced double-double performance to pace GHEC. Shumski scored 17 points and hauled in 12 boards, while Stensland netted 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Josh Wolter chipped in nine points, while teammate Josh Johanson distributed five assists for the Mustangs.
GHEC connected on 20 of 55 shots from 2-point range, 0 of 11 from behind the arc and 11 of 17 at the free throw line.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (0-2, 0-1 Valley) plays host to Madelia on Tuesday night at East Chain School.
St. Clair 20-51-71