NORTHROP - Martin Luther's defense kept tight reins on Sleepy Eye's low-post tandem of 6-foot-1 center Josie Schieffert and 5-10 power forward Claire Krumbach during Monday night's nonconference basketball clash in Northrop.
Unfortunately for the hometown Knights, junior guard Justine Gonzalez and eighth-grade reserve guard Madison Heiderscheidt picked up the offensive slack for the Indians.
Gonzalez delivered a team-best 15 points and distributed three assists, while Heiderscheidt produced 11 points and a game-high nine steals to help Sleepy Eye fend off Martin Luther, 50-43.
LOOKING FOR AN?OPENING — Martin Luther guard Kayley Shoen (left) looks for an opening to drive around Sleepy Eye defender Justine Gonzalez during nonconference basketball action on Monday night in Northrop. Gonzalez and the visiting Indians went on to fend off Shoen and the Knights, 50-43. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Coming into tonight's game, Schieffert and Krumbach were leading us in scoring with about a dozen or so points a game each, but Martin Luther's post players (Amber Schulz and Kristi Oberdieck) were physical down low and caused us some problems getting the ball inside," said Sleepy Eye head coach Ryan Hulke. "Justine did a nice job of stepping it up (offensively) for us tonight."
Trailing 21-19 on the heels of Oberdieck's runner in traffic, Gonzalez countered with a traditional 3-point play to swing a lead that the Indians would not relinquish for the final 21 minutes of the game.
Gonzalez then delivered a perfect low-post entry pass to Schieffert for a turnaround leaner before Heiderscheidt drove the heart of the lane for a bank shot. Gonzalez then beat the Knights' defense on a fastbreak chance, with Sarah Ibarra doling out a perfect lead pass to cap Sleepy Eye's 9-0 run with a minute left in the opening half.
Schulz, who produced a double-double performance of a team-best 16 points and 12 boards, sank a solo free throw just before intermission to inch the Knights within 28-22.
Guard Kayley Shoen, who chipped in 12 points, and Schulz kept pounding the paint during the second half to keep Martin Luther within striking distance before Heiderscheidt and Gonzalez's sure-handed defense triggered Sleepy Eye's 8-2 run to extend the visitors' lead to 45-32 with 6:25 remaining in regulation.
Schulz then pocketed one of her team-leading six steals and later fed Oberdieck for a low-post basket to ignite the Knights' ensuing 8-0 run to whittle the Indians' lead to five with 4 minutes to go.
Hulke utilized a timeout at the 3:44 juncture and Gonzalez executed the drawn-up play to perfection out of the break, catching Ibarra's inbound pass on the run and hitting the cutter to restore a seven-point gap at 47-40.
Oberdieck grabbed a game-best 14 rebounds to complement seven points for the Knights.
Schieffert neared double-double territory by scoring nine points to go with a team-high 11 boards, while Krumbach chipped in five points and 10 boards.
Martin Luther (0-4, 0-2 Valley) plays host to Nicollet tonight in Northrop in a conference game.
Sleepy Eye (3-3) plays host to Tomahawk Conference opponent Minnesota Valley Lutheran at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
North Union 51, Estherville-Lincoln Central 24 - The Warriors held the Midgets to just 24 points to engineer a 27-point nonconference victory on Monday night in Estherville, Iowa.
Aurora Oliver paced the Warriors with a game-high 13 points to go with three rebounds.
North Union's Sarah Rolling produced 10 points and made three steals to go with her three boards.
Alexis Valvick netted six points for the Warriors, who made 20 of 54 shots from the floor.
Madison Bollig pulled down four rebounds, while Dena Looft made six steals and doled out three assists in the Warriors' win.
The Warriors shot 80 percent from the free throw line by swishing 8 of 10 attempts on the game.
Caitlyn Clayton scored a team-leading 12 points for the Midgets.
North Union (4-2, 1-0 Corn Belt) plays host to Clay Central-Everly at 6 p.m. tonight in Armstrong.