SLEEPY EYE - Sleepy Eye St. Mary's kept its season alive with a 51-35 victory over Cleveland in a Section 2A, North Subsection girls' basketball first round playoff game on Thursday.
The game got off to a slow start with both teams struggling to get anything going offensively, and the score was still 4-4 six minutes into the game.
"I definitely think we had some nerves at the beginning of the game," Knights' senior Nikki Carr said. "We were also really pumped up for this game, so it might have been just a little too much energy."
St. Mary's senior Larissa Helget finally broke the drought two and a half minutes later with a field goal which gave the Knights' offense a little spark.
Just when St. Mary's started to pull away, Cleveland got hot from 3-point range to keep the game tight.
Transition buckets played a huge role in the Knights' offense. Carr's tough defense in the backcourt forced multiple turnovers which led to easy points on the other end for the Knights.
"We are a quicker team, and it really helps when we are able to get points in transition like that," Carr said.
Carr had 11 points and four steals for the game.
Going into the half, St. Mary's was able to give itself a 10 point cushion with a 25-15 lead.
The Knights started the second half with an 8-2 run, and their lead would never dip back into the single digits.
"We knew we had to come out fighting the second half and prove how much we wanted it," Carr said.
Cleveland looked ready to make one last run when it cut the St. Mary's lead to 12, but two Carr steals and layups proved to be a dagger for Cleveland.
Junior Becca Schmitz had a double-double to lead the Knights with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Helget scored eight points, while junior Sabrina Portner had 18 rebounds to go with six points.
St. Mary's (11-14) will travel to take on second seeded Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity on Monday in the Section 2A, North Subsection quarterfinal.
"We know Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity is a tough team, so we are going to have to work hard, but this win definitely gives us some confidence going into that game," Carr said.