SLEEPY EYE - Sleepy Eye St. Mary's broke open a close game with a strong second half to earn an 80-54 win against Wabasso on Thursday in a Tomahawk Conference boys' basketball game.
Sean Mathiowetz led the way for the Knights with a double-double, netting 22 points to go with 11 rebounds. Mathiowetz scored 17 of his points in the second half.
"Overall I think it was a good win for us," St. Mary's head coach Tim Milliard said. "Wabasso does a really nice job of slowing the tempo down and making it more of a half-court game, so I thought at times we were a little impatient with that in the first half, but I thought overall eventually we got into a better flow. We got some turnovers, hit a couple of shots, and I think we kind of just gradually built on the lead, so overall it's a good win for us."
Wabasso received a stand-out performance from junior Tanner Bock, who earned a double-double with 18 points and 19 rebounds. However, the Rabbits weren't able to put enough of a run together to counter the Knights' strong second half.
"I thought we played hard," Wabasso head coach Josh Hadley said. "We only played five, got in foul trouble in the second half and they took advantage of it and went to the basket a lot more. Then the shots started falling from the outside, and there's not much we could do to defend that. If they're on, they're a very tough team to beat, and they were on that second half."
St. Mary's gained much of its advantage from beyond the 3-point line, netting 10 3-pointers compared to just two for Wabasso. Senior Kansas Adams made a team-high four 3-pointers for the Knights.
Adams and junior John Brandl scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, to pace St. Mary's in the first half. Wabasso held tough to go into halftime trailing just 36-26, but the Knights hit their stride after the break.
"It was a pretty methodical first half, then I thought we did a little bit better job in the second half pushing the tempo, getting a few more transition baskets and being a little more aggressive," Milliard said.
The Rabbits' efforts were hampered when Matt Zeug and Seth Guetter each received their fourth foul during the second half, with Zeug eventually fouling out.
"At that point you kind of try to slow the game down, and I thought for the most part we did a very good job, but at times we rushed a few shots, they went down in transition and got a few big buckets, and that's how they extended their lead," Hadley said.
Wabasso defeated St. Mary's 69-67 on Dec. 17 in the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Adams finished with 20 points for St. Mary's and Brandl added 12 points and six rebounds. Mike Hirsch and Jordan Anderson each had 11 points, with Anderson contributing seven rebounds.
Neil Eichten had 13 points to go along with four steals and five assists for Wabasso. Scott Jenniges added 10 points and Guetter finished with nine points.
St. Mary's (13-3, 9-2) will play at Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Monday before returning home to host Mountain Lake Area on Tuesday in a rematch of last year's Section 2A championship game. The Knights will hit the road again to take on Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Friday.
"It'll be a good week to just play some good teams," Milliard said. "It'll be a good test for us."
Wabasso (8-10, 5-5) will host Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Monday and will begin a stretch of four games in six days starting Thursday.
"They're young yet, they've got legs," Hadley said. "As they get older they probably wouldn't like that schedule, but the kids just love playing games. I think we'll do fine - we play really well at home, so hopefully we can defend our home court and maybe steal one on the road."