EAST CHAIN - The Granada-Huntley-East Chain girls basketball team jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the opening minutes against Martin County West on Thursday in East Chain.
Unfortunately for the home team, the Mavericks responded quickly and effectively, taking the lead and never relenquishing it after the 13 minute mark of the opening half to win 58-35 during Valley Conference Showcase action.
Mustang sophomores Rachel Shumski and Mariah Jensen along with senior Emily Zaharia all scored baskets in the opening minutes to put the Mustangs ahead 6-0.
ELEVATING — Martin County West’s Kate Thiesse (white jersey) elevates to shoot a jumper over Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Kenlie Pytleski during Valley Conference Showcase basketball action Thursday night at East Chain School. The Mustangs’ Allyson Cegelske (31) and Rachel Shumski (51) look on. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Shumski swished a shot along the baseline, before Zaharia drilled a shot from the elbow and Jensen sank a runner in the lane.
"They started out hot offensively in the first half," said Martin County West head coach Rodger Taylor. "They hit their first three shots and I had to remind the girls that we needed to calm down and play our game."
Ellie Kuehl responded for the Mavericks, hitting a three in the corner, before hitting a jumped to cut the lead to 6-5.
Sophomore forward Reilly Geistfeld then went four-for-four from the free throw line after getting fouled on a pair of baskets inside the lane to put the Mavericks up 9-6 five minutes into the game.
Zaharia, who scored a team-leading 12 points then cut the Mustang deficit to 9-8, swishing a shot from the wing with just over 11 minutes to play.
The Mustangs then went down and stopped the Maverick offense that made 19-58 from inside the arc in the game.
"We did not shoot well tonight," said Taylor. "We were missing bunnies and easy shots, and that can be frustrating, but better to get them all out of the system now."
On the ensuing Mustang possession, Maverick junior Taryn Tumbleson pocketed a steal off a pass from point guard Mariah Jensen.
Tumbleson sprinted the length of the floor and laid the ball up and in to make it 11-8.
With a stifiling defense that created 10 steals in the game, the Mavericks then cooled off the Mustang offense keeping them from scoring for the next four minutes.
The Mavericks, found a spark to their offense late in the first half, as Kate Thiesse, who scored a game-high 16 points, netted 11 to help the Mavericks go ahead by double digits.
Thiesse swished a jumper from the free throw line, to give the Mavericks an 18-8 lead with seven minutes before half.
Zaharia, provided some life for the Mustangs with four minutes before half, swishing a 3 from the corner to make it 21-12 in the Mavericks' favor.
Shumski, who finished with nine points, then scored two minutes before half, banking a shot off the backboard to make it 23-14.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Whitney Smith, who pocketed three steals, swiped a pass and zipped a pass to Thiesse on the fast break for the layup to make it 25-14 with just over a minute before half.
At halftime the visiting Mavericks held a nine-point 27-16 lead over the Mustangs.
The second half, the Maverick defense stifled the Mustangs, holding them to just 19 points as they cruised to the 23-point victory.
"They really outrebounded us in the second half and that ended up being the difference in the game I think," said Granada-Huntley-East Chain head coach Rick Uttech about the 32 to 22 rebounding differential.
McKenna Taylor and Smith each scored five second-half points on the way to five and seven point nights to help carry the Maverick offense.
Kuehl finished with eight points for the Mavericks, while Tumbleson had six and Madyson Larson tallied five points.
Thiesse pulled down a team-high eight boards, while Geistfeld grabbed seven.
Kenlie Pytleski netted nine points and six rebounds for the Mustangs, while McDonald pulled down a game-high 10 reounds in the game.
Martin County West (17-1, 5-1 Valley) plays host to Class 1A, No. 8-ranked Mankato Loyola in a Valley Conference Showcase game at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Sherburn.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (7-10, 6-5 Valley) will play St. Clair in a showcase game at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday in Sherburn.
Alden-Conger 48, Martin Luther 47 - Cassie Gilster scored a game-best 18 points to help the hometown Knights squeeze past the visiting Knights by one point during second-round Valley Conference Showcase action Thursday night in Alden.
Alden-Conger outscored Martin Luther, 36-27, during the second half to erase an eight-point halftime deficit.
Kayley Shoen produced 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals to top Martin Luther, while teammate Amber Schulz neared double-double territory by scoring nine points to complement a game-best 12 rebounds.
The visiting Knights made 16 of 42 shots from 2-point range, 3 of 8 behind the 3-point arc and only 6 of 15 at the free throw line.
Martin Luther (7-10) plays Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Sherburn in the final round of the Showcase.
North Union 42, West Hancock 33 - Aurora Oliver and Alexis Valvick each scored nine points to steer the Warriors to a nine-point victory over the Eagles on Thursday night in Armstrong.
Dena Looft produced six points and six rebounds for North Union, while Sarah Rolling contributed six points, five boards and three steals to the winning cause.
Madison Irmiter pulled down seven rebounds, while Madison Bollig netted five boards and three steals for the Warriors.
North Union made 8 of 23 shots from 2-point territory, 4 of 22 behind the arc and 14 of 25 at the charity stripe.
North Union (11-5, 6-1 Corn Belt) plays host to West Bend-Mallard tonight in Armstrong.
Blue Earth Area 53, Windom Area 41 - Luke Monson delivered a double-double performance to propel the Bucs to a 12-point nonconference triumph over the Eagles on Thursday night in Blue Earth.
Monson scorched the nets on 10 of 12 shots from 2-point range to fuel a game-best 21-point performance to complement a game-high 11 rebounds.
Kellen Jacobs netted 10 points for BEA, Bailey Olson scored eight, Conor Barnett chipped in six points, while Quinn Huisman distributed a game-leading six assists.
The Bucs blistered the nets on 23-for-29 shooting - 79 percent - from inside the arc, but hit only 2 of 16 from bonus range. The home team also made the only free throw it attempted.
Jeff Pfeffer scored 12 points to top Windom Area, while Kyle Antes and Bryce Bever supplied eight points each.
Blue Earth Area (7-11, 3-5 South Central) travels to St. Peter tonight.
B.E. Area 25-28-53
St. James 72, Martin County West 53 - Zach Brandts scored a game-leading 20 points to steer the Class 2A, No. 9-ranked Saints to a 19-point nonconference victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night in St. James.
Walker Froehling supplied 16 points to the balanced St. James attack, while John Olsen and Ryan Menssen chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Saints capitalized from the free throw line, sinking 19 of 25 for 76 percent.
Jake Faber scored 14 points to top the Mavericks, while Alex Biehn and Jake Sinn each netted 10 points. Biehn also neared double-double territory by garnering eight rebounds.
MCW made 22 of 48 shots from 2-point range, just 2 of 15 behind the bonus arc and 7 of 11 at the line.
Martin County West (11-8) travels to St. Clair on Monday night for a Valley Conference Showcase game, while St. James (16-4, 5-3 South Central) travels to Fairmont tonight for a key conference game.
New Ulm Cathedral 56, Truman/Martin Luther 43 - Jacob Gangelhoff delivered a game-best 20 points to power the Greyhounds to a 13-point non-league triumph over the BluejayKnights on Thursday night in New Ulm.
Collin Helget contributed 16 points and six rebounds to Cathedral's winning ways.
Sam Geistfeld collected another double-double by scoring 15 points and pulling down 16 rebounds to go with four blocked shots to top TML.
Jackson Maloney produced 13 points and seven boards for the BluejayKnights, while teammate Colton Greiner chipped in 10 points.
Truman/Martin Luther (9-12) plays in the Valley Conference Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Monday night, with its opponent and site of the game to be determined later.