NORTHROP - It came down to free throws for the Alden-Conger Knights and Martin Luther Knights girls basketball teams on Tuesday night in Northrop.
The hometown Knights shot a season-high 78 percent from the line, including an 11 for 12 effort from Amber Schulz and 10 for 12 performance by Kayley Shoen, to hold off the visiting Knights for a 64-61 Valley Conference victory.
"Free throws were critical for us tonight," said Martin Luther head coach Leslie Wokasch. "I thought that it was huge of Alexis Brummond to step to the line and she made 3 of 4 in the final three minutes for us. Those were huge when you look at the score."
UNDER PRESSURE — Martin Luther’s Amber Schulz (40) applies pressure to Alden-Conger’s Brittany Waters (15) during Valley Conference basketball game Tuesday night in Northrop. Martin Luther’s Bekah Rusert guards Alden-Conger’s Liesel Theusch closer to the basket. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
After trailing 30-28 at halftime, the visiting Knights came back in the second half and took a 53-50 lead with 4:30 left to play.
Junior center Liesel Theusch later converted a traditional 3-point play to give Alden-Conger a 56-50 lead with 4 minutes to play.
After Hunter Payne sank a jumper, Shoen swished a pair of free throws a minute later to help the home team get within two points, 56-54.
Brummond then pocketed one of her two steals and zipped a pass to Schulz, who was fouled on the shot.
Schulz, who scored a double-double performance with a team-leading 21 points and 10 boards, then swished the free throws to tie the game at 56 with 2:45 left.
"Amber has really stepped it up and has been playing great," said Wokasch. "She was always a good player, but this year she's been a better defensive player and that helps her offense."
Alden-Conger's Brooke Reyerson grabbed a rebound on a missed shot, and powered up the putback to give the visitors a 59-57 lead with 1:30 on the clock.
Shoen, who netted 16 points to go along with her three steals, then tied the game again by driving the lane with 1:15 left in the game to make it 59-59.
Reyerson missed a shot from inside the lane for the visiting Knights, and Martin Luther's Kristi Oberdieck pulled down the rebound and fired an outlet pass to Brummond.
Brummond then found Shoen on a back-door pass for a layup to give the home team a 61-59 lead with one minute left in the game.
"I thought that we showed what we are made of tonight," said Wokasch. "We knew it'd be tough and they came out ready to play and fought for this one all the way to the end."
Brummond, who swiped an Alden-Conger pass on the next possession, drove the length of the court and was fouled with 15 seconds left.
The freshman drilled both free throws to extend the home team's lead to 63-59.
With nine seconds on the clock, the visiting Knights cut the lead to 63-61 when Karina Skov swished a jumper on an inbounds pass.
"They figured out our defense in the second half and Liesel was really keeping them in the game," said Wokasch. "I was nervous that they would keep coming and we wouldn't be able to stop them."
After a timeout, Alden-Conger fouled Brummond, sending her back to the line with four seconds left.
Brummond made one of her two shots to give Martin Luther a 64-61 lead.
Despite a late desperation shot, the visiting Knights could not come back.
Cassie Gilster, who scored 13 points for the visiting Knights, netted nine of those in the first half from outside the arc.
"They got hot from the 3-point line right before half and I hoped that didn't carry over into the second half," said Wokasch. "Thankfully our girls were able to keep up the intensity and I'm proud of the way they played tonight to get this win."
Martin Luther (5-6, 4-3 Valley) travels to Sleepy Eye-St. Mary's on Thursday.
Alden Conger (8-6, 5-2 Valley) plays host to Martin County West on Friday night in Alden.
Martin County West 74, Cleveland 40 - The Mavericks had 10 people record baskets to cruise by the Clippers 74-40 during Valley Conference basketball action on Tuesday in Sherburn.
Kate Thiesse topped the multi-dimensional Maverick offense with a team-leading 17 points to go along with six steals, while Reilly Geistfeld netted 15 points.
Taryn Tumbleson poured in 13 points, while Madyson Larson doled out six assists to go along with eight boards in the win.
McKenna Taylor pulled down eight rebounds and teammate Whitney Smith chipped in with seven caroms. Morgan Larson pocketed six steals in the game.
The Mavericks sank 32 of 78 attempts from inside the arc, in addition to 8 of 25 free throws.
Taylor Holicky scored a team-leading 16 points for the Clippers.
Martin County West (12-1, 7-0 Valley) travels to Alden on Friday night.
Cleveland (6-8, 1-7 Valley) plays host to conference opponent Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton on Friday night.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain 62, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 38 - Rachel Shumski generated a game-high 22 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists to pace the Mustangs to a 62-38 Valley Conference victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night in Janesville.
Nicole Lenort and Emily Zaharia each contributed nine points in the win, while Kenlie Pytleski pulled down 12 boards and distributed four assists.
The Mustangs hit 24 of 53 shots from the field and made 11 of 21 free throws.
Carrie Gottschalk scored a team-leading 11 points for the Bulldogs.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (5-7, 5-5 Valley) plays host to Springfield at 6 p.m. on Saturday in East Chain.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (10-5, 4-4) travels to Cleveland on Friday.
Truman/Martin Luther 68, North Union 49 - Alex Weihe approached double-double territory, while Sam Geistfeld generated another double-double to lead the BluejayKnights to a 68-49 nonconference victory over the Warriors on Tuesday night in Truman.
Weihe poured in a game-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists, while Geistfeld netted 17 points and 17 rebounds in addition to doling out three assists.
Colton Greiner contributed 12 points for TML.
The BluejayKnights made 24 of 56 attempts from inside the arc, along with making 15 of 19 free throws.
Jacob Braddock scored a team-leading 13 points for the Warriors, while Aric Runge tallied 10 points, four rebounds and five assists.
The Warriors made 20 of 53 shots from the field, while making just 3 of 15 free throws.
Truman/Martin Luther (7-9, 4-4 Valley) travels to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Thursday night.
North Union (2-11) plays host to Corn Belt Conference opponent Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire on Friday night in Armstrong.