SLEEPY EYE - High school girls basketball is a team sport, but there are times an individual accomplishment overshadows a game result.
Thursday night was one of those nights.
Sleepy Eye Indians junior Claire Krumbach joined the 1,000-point club despite the team's 68-50 loss to its crosstown rival, the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Knights (6-2).
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Maddy Helget (center) drives to the basket between Lauren Laffen (3) and Claire Krumbach of Sleepy Eye during the first half Thursday at SESM.
Krumbach started her first game for Sleepy Eye as a seventh grader and played on teams that combined for just 19 wins in her first three varsity seasons.
"Claire's just an outstanding leader," Indians coach Ryan Hulke said. "She's a gym rat and just the type of person everyone wants. The girls expect her to lead them. Some college is going to get a very good player."
But from Krumbach's standpoint, while the 1,000 points is "exciting," it might relieve just a little bit of pressure, too.
"I didn't know what to think when it happened," Krumbach said. "There's some weight off my shoulders. I just want to win, but I enjoy the role of the leader."
Concerning the game, it was all about Sleepy Eye turnovers and foul trouble, plus St. Mary's ability to put all phases of the game together at an important time in the second half.
"In the first half, we had a lot of free throw opportunities," St. Mary's coach Bruce Woitas said of his squad's 10-for-20 free throw shooting. "But we finished the half strong and carried it over into the second half. We rebounded better and got more shots inside, just a better job all the way around."
While the Indians may now be 0-6, they're one of the best winless teams a fan could watch.
"We've been in every game," Hulke said. "We've been within seven points in the last seven minutes of every game. It's just a lack of experience. If you divide the game into five minute stretches, they beat us by eight from the 10 minute mark to the five minute mark in the second half."
The Indians simply weren't able to keep control of the ball in the early stages of the game, and nine minutes into the game, they already had three players with two fouls. Krumbach scored 13 points in the first half, but the Knights were able to hit more shots to go along with their 10 free throws to take a 32-23 lead at the break.
By the time the game was three-quarters over, Sleepy Eye had two players with four fouls and two with three, although after consecutive long jumpers from McKayla Ahlrich, the Indians were down by eight, 43-35.
But St. Mary's started on a roll, helped by Maddy Helget's sharpshooter touch from the free throw line, as she went 8-for-8 in the second half and 11-for-12 overall to lead the Knights.
Krumbach got number 1,000 on a turnaround jumper with 8:44 left in the game, but a 3-pointer from Helget later iced the game.
Krumbach led all scorers with 25, while Helget led the Knights with 19, with Jessica Schwartz adding 18 for St. Mary's.
The Knights resume play 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at home against Wabasso, while Sleepy Eye hosts Martin Luther at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night.