NEW ULM - The holiday season has not been a very joyful time for the Martin Luther College men's basketball team the past couple of years.
Nearly three seasons have passed since the Knights have won in December, but Christmas has come early and the Knights have their first win of the year after they upset the St. John's Johnnies 76-63 in non-conference play Monday night.
Galen Holzhueter scored 29 points for a second consecutive game, just one point shy of his career-high 30 points against Wartburg last December. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and was 7-for-7 from the line.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Luke Rothe (24) takes a shot as Chris Neumann (21) of St. John’s defends and Mitchell Kuck (5) looks on during the first half Monday at MLC in New Ulm.
Holzhueter is now averaging 19 points and eight rebounds per game this season - as a small forward.
Can anyone stop Galen Holzhueter?
"He's just a horse inside," head coach Jim Unke said. "There are guys taller than him, but when he wants to play, nobody can stop him - at least I haven't seen anyone."
Holzhueter started his day off with a quick score to begin the game and a 9-0 spurt a few minutes in gave the Knights their biggest lead of the half at 17-9 with 13:06 to go.
St. John's hung around and a breakaway layup with 6:15 to go tied the game at 26-26. The Johnnies proceeded to build a lead, but Holzhueter's jumper with 1:00 to go cut the deficit to three points and an offensive rebound put-back at the buzzer from Micah Koelpin cut the Johnnie's lead to one point.
The second half saw five lead changes and three ties in the first seven and a half minutes before Luke Rothe's bucket with 12:39 to go gave the Knights the lead for good.
Holzhueter's final bucket of the game came with four seconds left and gave the Knights their biggest lead of the night and also sealed the victory.
"It's nice to get the monkey off our back," Unke said. "We have been taking steps forward all year and it was just a matter of time. I think you have just seen the beginning of what this team is capable of doing. We're hoping to continue to get better, and we have some good opponents coming up the next week and a half, so we're looking forward to it."
The Knights will host Central College (Iowa) on Friday at 7:00 p.m. before heading to Iowa for a match-up against Wartburg on Saturday.
"There's no easy game," Unke said. "This was a good game against a solid MIAC team, so we'll take it."