BLUE EARTH - Martin County West singed the net on the visiting basket at the Blue Earth Area gymnasium during the second half of Tuesday night's game.
The Mavericks connected on 73 percent of its field goals - 11 of 15 - and made all eight of its free throws during the final 18 minutes to pace a 53-36 nonconference victory over the Blue Earth Area Bucs.
The scrappy Bucs applied high-intensity defensive pressure to trail the Mavericks by only two - 23-21 - at halftime before MCW utilized its highly-efficient shooting to pull away during the second half.
BANK SHOT — Martin County West’s Ellie Kuehl banks home a basket over Blue Earth Area’s Kaitlyn Olsen (3) during nonconference basketball action Tuesday night in Blue Earth. The Bucs’ Jenna Stevermer (2), Paige Darrington (center) and Karli Olsen (second from right), along with the Mavericks’ Kate Thiesse, watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"You have to give credit to Blue Earth (Area) - they came out and got after it during the first half," said Maverick mentor Rodger Taylor. "They hit some key shots right before the end of the half to pull within two of us."
After point guard Taryn Tumbleson threaded the needle on an entry pass to Kate Thiesse for a low-post basket to extend MCW's margin to 23-14, Jenna Stevermer and Kaitlyn Olsen triggered BEA's seven-point surge during the final minute of the opening half.
Stevermer delivered a skip pass to Olsen for a 3-pointer at the top of the key before Olsen garnered a steal near midcourt and drove the distance for two more points.
Taylor Grandgenett, who netted six of her 10 points during the first half, then penetrated before kicking out a pass to Stevermer near the top of the key. Stevermer took a dribble right and launched a bull's-eye 2-pointer to beat the buzzer and narrow the Bucs' deficit to 23-21.
"I might have raised my voice just a little during my halftime speech," Rodger Taylor said with a smile.
Reilly Geistfeld and her Maverick teammates then heeded Taylor's words during the second half to transform a one-point advantage into a 39-27 lead by the 10-minute juncture.
Geistfeld, who scorched the nets on 7 of 10 field goals en route to a game-high 20 points, reeled off the first eight of MCW's ensuing 11-0 offensive surge.
Thiesse distributed back-to-back assists to Geistfeld before Jordan Gregory spotted the Mavericks' sophomore center for a leaner in the lane.
Geistfeld later sank two free throws before Thiesse converted a traditional 3-point play in traffic to put the game more or less out of reach.
Geistfeld pulled down six boards and Tumbleson garnered five to pace the Mavericks' narrow 25-20 rebounding edge.
Ellie Kuehl scored 10 points for MCW, Thiesse tallied nine to complement three assists, while Tumbleson chipped in eight points.
Jenna Stevermer scored 12 points to top the Bucs' effort, while Grandgenett netted 10 points and three steals. Karli Olsen and Kaitlyn Olsen added six and five points, respectively.
Martin County West (18-4) travels to Windom Area on Thursday night, while Blue Earth Area (8-12) hits the road to Waterville on Thursday night for a game against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Martin Luther 62, St. James 51 - Kayley Shoen scored a game-high 21 points and teammate Amber Schulz produced a double-double to steer the Knights to an 11-point nonconference victory over the Saints on Tuesday night in St. James.
Schulz scored 14 points and pulled down a game-best 10 rebounds, while Shoen added eight rebounds to her top point total.
The Knights made 17 of 37 shots from 2-point range, 2 of 3 from behind the 3-point arc and 22 of 39 at the free throw line.
Julia Beckius scored 14 points to top St. James.
Martin Luther (8-13) travels to East Chain School on Monday night to face Granada-Huntley-East Chain in a regular-season game.
M. Luther 30-32-62
St. James 29-22-51
Blue Earth Area 70, Luverne 63 - Luke Monson erupted for a game-leading double-double of 34 points and 22 rebounds to power the Bucs to a seven-point non-league triumph over the Cardinals on Tuesday night in Luverne.
Kellen Jacobs supplied 18 points to BEA's winning ways, while Conor Barnett chipped in seven points and four assists.
Josh Slieter netted 19 points to top Luverne's balanced scoring attack, while teammates Nicholas Overgaard and Nolan Sawtelle contributed 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Blue Earth Area (10-14), the No. 5 seed in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section, tips off playoff action against No. 4-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Lake Crystal.
Worthington 68, Martin County West 65 - The Trojans capitalized at the free throw line to edge the Mavericks by three points during nonconference action Tuesday night in Worthington.
Worthington connected on 17 of 26 charity tosses compared to MCW's 9-for-18 performance at the line.
Marcus Potter scored 20 points to top the Trojans' balanced effort, while Spencer Grafing and Will Dudley supplied 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Jake Faber netted a double-double of a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds to complement four assists in topping MCW's effort.
Jake Sinn produced a double-double of 17 points and a game-best 13 rebounds for the Mavericks, while Cordell Weber chipped in 14 points.
The Mavericks made 24 of 52 field goals, including 16 of 32 from 2-point range, while the Trojans hit 22 of 48 shots from the floor, including 7 of 16 from behind the 3-point arc.
Martin County West (12-11) tips off the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinals by traveling to Jackson on Saturday night for a 7 p.m. playoff clash against Jackson County Central.
Madelia 55, Truman/Martin Luther 50 - Derrick VanHee collected 14 points, eight assists, five boards and three steals to help the Blackhawks edge the BluejayKnights by five on Tuesday night in Northrop.
Kyle Schultz netted 13 points and pocketed three steals for Madelia, Austin Denn chipped in 10 points, while Riley Benzel added eight points.
Sam Geistfeld delivered another double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds to go with three assists to top TML.
Adam Neumann made five 3-pointers to pace his 15-point performance for the BluejayKnights and doled out three assists, while Alex Weihe tallied seven points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Truman/Martin Luther (11-14) tips off the Section 2A, South Sub-Section playoffs against Alden-Conger at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Truman.