NEW ULM - New Ulm boys basketball coach Steve Foley was probably not happy with the 84 points that his Eagles allowed Thursday night against St. James.
But the 88 points put on the board by his team took some of the salt out of the defensive performance.
Grant Kannegiesser scored 19 points, with Tyler Dittrich and Riley Drahota adding 18 and 11 points, respectively, as the Eagles opened their South Central Conference schedule with an 88-84 win over the Saints.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Tanner Kluis (40) takes a jump shot after getting past Logan Sykes (21) of St. James Thursday at NUHS.
The win was New Ulm's second straight and moved them to 1-0 in the conference and 2-4 overall.
Zach Brandts led St. James (1-2, 0-2) with a game-high 27 points, with Walker Froehling adding 24.
Foley said that he was surprised not only by the 84 points his team gave up, but also the points that his squad came away with.
"I did not think that we would score 88 points in a game," he said. "And I did not think that we would give up 84 points either, but I would rather be on the winning end of this than on the losing end of it."
The Eagles, who scored 48 points in the first half (New Ulm had scored 38 total points in one game this year) held a slim one-point lead over the Saints, who matched New Ulm in fire power and lack of defense.
That offense continued for both teams in the second half when the Eagles scored the first seven points of the second half on baskets from Kannegiesser and Jackson Yackley and a 3-pointer courtesy of Drahota.
But the Saints quickly sliced into that lead, eventually pulling to within 60-59 thanks to Tyler Witcraft and Froehling hoops.
Foley said that the had expected this type of game from the Saints after having watched them play Waseca.
"I knew that they could shoot," he said. "They got up and down the court then and we were pushing the ball and trying to get it inside. I did think that once in a while we rushed out shots."
A Dittrich basket off of a Saints turnover lifted the Eagles to a 76-66 lead with 3:50 left in the game.
Tanner Kluis' basket with 2:15 remaining had the Eagles up 80-70. But once again the Saints clawed their way back to within 80-77 on a trey from John Olsen and a Froehling score off of an Eagles turnover.
But that 10-point lead was too much for the Saints to come back from as they climbed no closer than 85-81 on a Brandts' 3 with nine seconds left, and then to 87-84 on a second Brandts' 3-pointer.
"We went 10 deep tonight because of foul trouble,' Foley said. "Grant Kannegiesser did a great job for us all-around, Blake Piotter came off of the bench and played some great defense on Walker (Froehling). Everybody played well. The two wins in a row are great for the program."