TRUMAN - Amber Schulz and Kristi Oberdieck controlled the boards, Kayley Shoen filled the fastbreak lanes and Effie Bentz triggered the pinpoint passes during Thursday night's basketball clash in Truman.
Schulz and Oberdieck each produced double-double performances, Bentz distributed a game-best eight assists to go with 12 points and five steals, while Shoen contributed 10 points and five boards off the bench to propel the Martin Luther Knights to a 67-50 non-league victory over the Truman Bluejays.
Two nights ago, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's utilized a 50-38 rebounding edge to post a 12-point victory over Martin Luther during its season-opener in Northrop.
CHALLENGING THE SHOT — Martin Luther post player Samantha Meade (42) challenges a shot by Truman point guard Cleo Maloney (11) during basketball action Thursday night in Truman. Martin Luther’s Amber Schulz (40) boxes out Truman’s Beth Kotewa on the play as the Knights’ Kayley Shoen (5) and the Bluejays’ Emily Zaharia (far left) watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
First-year Knight head coach Leslie Wokasch reversed those numbers by working on improving the team's interior defense during Wednesday's practice. In turn, Schulz and Oberdieck focused more on boxing out and produced 16 and 10 boards, respectively, to power Martin Luther's 59-38 edge on the glass.
"We did a much better job on boxing out tonight," said Wokasch.
The Knights' improved boardwork, combined with alert outlet passes by Bentz, Catie Sherman and Hunter Payne, triggered the visitors' pivotal 15-1 offensive run at the 8:30 juncture of the opening half.
After point guard Cleo Maloney buried back-to-back 3-pointers off assists from Emily Zaharia to swing an early 10-8 lead to Truman, Bentz got Martin Luther's fastbreak offense revving by pushing the basketball upcourt quickly.
Zaharia, who produced stellar all-around numbers of a game-best 20 points to complement nine rebounds, five steals and five assists, hit a runner in traffic to knot the game at 12-all with nine minutes remaining.
Bentz, however, had other plans and countered with a fastbreak drive and traditional 3-point play to eventually stake the Knights to a 27-13 edge.
The fleet-footed Shoen was the recipient of back-to-back Bentz assists for breakaway baskets before Bentz spotted Payne, Oberdieck and Schulz to generate six more unanswered points.
Zaharia finally ended Truman's scoreless span by tossing in a runner off a Cleo Maloney assist with 4:30 left before halftime.
Schulz pounded the low post to help Martin Luther maintain its 13-point halftime six minutes into the second segment before the power forward and Shoen triggered a 12-0 run.
Savannah Hodge nailed a pull-up 14-foot jumper to pull Truman within 43-31 before Schulz sank two free throws and hit a putback basket to serve as the second-half surge's catalyst.
Shoen then pocketed one of her three steals along the sideline, fired an outlet pass to Payne, who worked a perfect give-and-go to Bentz for the ideal fastbreak lay-in.
Shoen then capped the double-digit run with a pair of breakaways sandwiched around Payne's backdoor conversion off Bentz's perfect lob.
Zaharia and Cleo Maloney countered down the stretch, but the Knights' margin proved too large to overcome.
Cleo Maloney finished with 13 points, a game-best six steals and five rebounds for the Bluejays, while Brooke McDonald supplied seven boards and four points.
Schulz tallied 17 points to top Martin Luther's effort, Bentz netted 12 points, Oberdieck chalked up 11 and Shoen delivered 10.
Martin Luther (1-1) plays host to St. Clair on Tuesday night in Northrop, while Truman (0-2) travels to Minnesota Lake on Tuesday night to face Maple River.