SLEEPY EYE - Familiarity is far from absent in the cross-town rivalry between Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye St. Mary's.
The two schools butted heads in girl's basketball on Thursday with Sleepy Eye winning 53-36 to capture its first conference win of the season.
"It was a very physical game, usually fouls play a huge factor just because everybody's so amped up," said Sleepy Eye coach Ryan Hulke.
The Knights (2-4, 0-2 Tomahawk) missed just five free-throw attempts (12-of-17) after shooting 40 percent from the charity stripe on Monday. However, they were stunned overall offensively, shooting 12-of-70 (17.1 percent) from the floor.
"I think we had a lot of good shots, we missed shots inside, there were some times where we maybe rushed some shots," said St. Mary's coach Bruce Woitas. "But overall, I thought we were getting good looks, but they just weren't dropping."
Sleepy Eye's Josie Schieffert and Claire Krumbach forced St. Mary's to shoot outside by locking down on Becca Schmitz, holding her to two points and a 0-for-5 stand from the floor.
"The first half, they really pinched down on [Schmitz] on the inside and they challenged us to take the outside shot," Woitas said. "We've got to have somebody to be able to step up and hit that shot when they clamp down on the inside game of ours."
Schmitz finished with a team-high 11 points. Nikki Carr led the Knights on the outside with eight points, while Jamie Marti and Larissa Helget each added four.
On the flip side, Schmitz and Sabrina Portner clamped down on Krumbach and Schieffert, forcing the Indians (2-3, 1-2) to rely on junior point guard Justine Gonzalez as the main source of scoring.
"We knew coming in it would be tough," Krumbach said. "But we shut them down by playing a zone so we would pack it in. We just knew we needed more of the guards to step up."
Gonzalez came through with a game-high 18 points - including 11 in the first half. Gonzalez's performance mitigated the Indians' troubles on the inside, which included Schieffert fouling out with 1:46 remaining. She finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
"Justine is the better guard on our team so obviously this is a game we look for her to do things," Hulke said. "St. Mary's has got very good post players with Portner and Schmitz inside. We knew Josie and Claire were going to get equaled out this game, so we needed our guards to step up."
McKayla Ahlrich did her part from the outside for the Indians, scoring nine of her 12 points in the second half with two 3s while grabbing 10 rebounds for a double-double.
"Very suspect shots at the time of the game - we're up 10 and she's shooting after one, two passes," Hulke said of Ahlrich. "But she knocked them down, so it makes me kind of put my foot in my mouth."
Overall, Krumbach said the difference-maker was Sleepy Eye's hustle.
"I think we out-hustled them quite a bit and we could just tell we wanted the ball and we were getting on the floor," said Krumbach, who finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals. "We just didn't let the refs or anybody bother us."
Both teams return to the court next Tuesday with Sleepy Eye hosting Minnesota Valley Lutheran and St. Mary's hosting Wabasso. Both games are slated to tip at 7:30 p.m.
S.E. St. Mary's 20 16 - 36
Sleepy Eye 25 28 - 53
S.E. St. Mary's: Becca Schmitz (11 pts, 3-17, 5-6 FT), Nikki Carr (8 pts, 4-11), Sabrina Portner (7 pts, 1-10, 5-7 FT), Jamie Marti (4 pts, 2-5), Larissa Helget (4 pts, 2-15, 0-1 FT).
Sleepy Eye: Justine Gonzalez (18 pts, 5-16, 7-8 FT), McKayla Ahlrich (12 pts, 4-10, 1-2 FT), Claire Krumbach (10 pts, 3-8, 3-4 FT), Josie Schieffert (6 pts, 3-8),