NEW ULM - In Thursday's back-and-forth girls' basketball game between New Ulm Cathedral and Cedar Mountain/Comfrey, neither team was able to put together enough of a run to gain any separation throughout much of the contest.
However, the Greyhounds put together an 11-0 run over the final eight minutes of the game to earn a 48-36 victory in the Tomahawk Conference opener for both teams.
"Cedar Mountain's very scrappy, and I didn't think we played great defense in the first half, but the second half I thought our defense was a lot better," Cathedral head coach Mary Dengerud said. "We got quite a few steals, and then came down and actually in the last few minutes held our composure really well, and I thought they finished well."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral’s Karlee Pfaff (33) takes a shot as Brianna Lund (40) of Cedar Mountain/Comfrey defends on the play during the first half Tuesday at CHS.
Cathedral built a lead in the early minutes of the game, but a successful and-one play by the Cougars' Allison Madsen gave CM/C a 10-9 lead with 11:32 remaining in the first half.
Cathedral sophomore Anne Schwarz made a pair of free throws 14 seconds later to give her team back the lead for a while, but a breakaway basket by Madsen that followed a steal by teammate Emily Ochs (four steals) tied the game at 16-16.
CM/C's Brianna Lund and Madsen earned steals on the Greyhounds' next two possessions, respectively, but were unable to convert on the other end of the floor. The stretch prompted a timeout called by Dengerud, after which the Greyhounds regrouped and established a 28-25 lead at halftime.
Kristin Mohr put Cathedral on her shoulders in the final few minutes of the first half, scoring eight of her team's final 10 points in the half. Madsen led the Cougars with 11 points in the first half.
The second half became a low-scoring affair, with each team's defense stepping up to keep the game close until Cathedral's final run.
"I thought we played really good defense tonight, we just had a hard time shooting," CM/C head coach Mike Kelly said. "Every time it seemed we'd pull within a point, then we'd turn the ball over three, four times in a row, we could never just get over the hump. I think our girls, they just panic a little bit, and we've just got to learn to overcome that."
A basket by Cougars freshman Haley Weidman tied the game at 30-30, after which Andrea Ochs scored to give CM/C a 32-30 lead.
After a basket by the Greyhounds' Karlee Pfaff tied the game once more, Cathedral freshman Leah Krzmarzick gave her team the lead for good with a lay-up and a 3-pointer in quick succession.
Emily Ochs scored four straight points to cut the Greyhounds' lead to 37-36, but the Cougars didn't score again the rest of the way.
"We didn't push it quite as hard, especially we didn't drive as much on the offensive side, which I feel that would have helped us a little bit if we would have kept pushing it inside," Madsen said of her impression of the second half. "Overall it felt a little bit slower on both sides, and I think that goes back to the defense. I think we both had really good defense, so it was hard just to get good looks at the basket."
Schwarz scored six of Cathedral's points during the team's closing 11-0 run.
Pfaff led Cathedral with 14 points in the game. Schwarz (team-high seven rebounds) and Mohr added 10 points apiece and Lisa Helget had a team-high four steals.
Madsen (three rebounds, five assists) finished with a team-high 13 points for CM/C, with Emily Ochs and Weidman (three rebounds) adding eight points each. Lund had three steals, Andrea Ochs had a pair of steals and Karliana Kelly notched three rebounds.
The Greyhounds improved to 1-1 on the season, while the Cougars now have a 1-2 record.
Cathedral will hit the road Friday for a conference match-up at Wabasso.
"That's going to be a very tough game," Dengerud said. "Playing up there is always tough, they're a very good defensive team a a good shooting team. We've got two days to go to work here."
CM/C will take on Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop for a home game in Morgan on Friday.
"We need to cut down on our turnovers, get a few more looks at the basket and just put in our shots," Madsen said. "Our shooting needs to improve a little bit, that's what we're going to work on."