NORTHROP - The No. 7-seeded Martin Luther Knights girls basketball team cruised by the No. 10-seeded Madelia Blackhawks to claim a 60-38 Section 2A, South Sub-Section opening-round game victory on Thursday in Northrop.
The Knights (9-14) advance to play No. 2-seeded United South Central in the sub-section quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Monday in Wells.
Madelia finished its season with a 3-22 record.
GLIDING LAYUP — Martin Luther’s Alexis Brummond displays her vertical leap while scoring a layup during Section 2A, South Sub-Section opening-round basketball action Thursday night in Northrop. The Knights’ Kayley Shoen (right) boxes out Madelia’s Mary Manriquez (14) as Blackhawk teammate Melody Colon (second from left) trails the play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"I thought that we played really well in the second half," said Martin Luther head coach Leslie Wokasch. "We came out a little slow in the first half, and were able to keep a lead. The second half though was much better."
Despite the Knights' 29-22 advantage over the Blackhawks at the midway point, it did not come easy.
The Knights jumped out to a 10-4 lead, thanks in part to Alexis Brummond starting out 3-for-3 from the floor for seven of her game-high 17 points.
The Blackhawks then got a spark inside the paint from Danielle Arndt, who scored eight of her team-leading 11 points in the first half.
After a Brummond 3-pointer from two steps beyond the arc to put the Knights ahead 13-6, Arndt was fouled on the other end inside the lane looking to complete the traditional 3-point play.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, Arndt missed the charity toss, but their defense shut down the Knights on the next possession, allowing Josseline Lopez to score on a layup to reduce their deficit to 13-10 with 11 minutes left before halftime.
While Brummond was lighting up the scoreboard from the outside, Amber Schulz and Hanna Geistfeld provided an inside presence for the Knights.
Geistfeld grabbed four of her team-leading nine rebounds in the first half, while Schulz and the freshman each netted four points to help the home team hold onto its lead.
With just over two minutes left before half, the Blackhawks cut the Knights' lead to two.
Melody Colon converted one of two free throws, with teammate Carisa Caraway grabbing the rebound and scoring on the putback to make it 24-22.
Brummond, who finished the half by going 6-for-8 from the floor, kept the Knights going.
"Our underclassmen played huge tonight," said Wokasch. "Alexis said after warm-ups she couldn't hit anything, so for her to come out and be on fire like that was great. And Hanna played awesome on the inside, too. Watching those two play together is fun."
The Knights continued their roll in the second half, holding the Blackhawks to just 16 points on their way to the victory.
Seniors Kristi Oberdieck and Hunter Payne provided late stability for the Knights. Oberdieck scored all six of her points, in addtion to grabbing five of her eight rebounds in the second half. Payne scored seven of her 10 points in the final 18 minutes.
Despite Colon scoring six of her nine points in the second half, and Arndt's double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, the Blackhawks didn't have an answer for the Knights.
"Before tonight's game, we worked on defense for everybody, but especially our guards," said Wokasch. "We wanted them to be all over the ball and annoying, because we figured if their guards can't get the ball into their posts, that would stall their offense. And all of our girls did a great job on defense tonight with 13 total steals."
Schulz finished with six points for the Knights, while Kayley Shoen contributed five points in the win.
Cinthia Sotelo scored five points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Blackhawks, while Colon pulled down seven boards.