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Mavericks outlast Crusaders in Valley clash, 58-54

SHERBURN — A fight to the final seconds.

The Martin County West Mavericks beat the Mankato Loyola Crusaders 58-54 in a Valley Conference basketball clash Thursday night in Sherburn. The win is the Mavericks’ sixth in their past seven games and moves them to 6-0 in the Valley Conference this season, while ending Loyola’s 5-0 start in the league.

With a minute left and MCW up by 5, a technical foul on Mankato Loyola looked to clinch the game. Dawson Weber stepped to the charity stripe and sank both free throws to move the Mavericks’ lead to 56-49, but the Mavericks were unable to keep possession after the technical because of a traveling call.

An MCW foul put the Crusaders’ Ben Ellingworth at the free throw line, where he sank both tries and got his game-leading 25th point.

The Crusaders fouled again, this time sending Wyatt Geistfeld to the line with 33.6 seconds remaining. Geistfeld hit the first of two attempts, but Mankato Loyola’s Isiah Godfrey capitalized on the ensuing possession with a 3 to move the Maverick lead to one possession.

The Mavericks successfuly inbounded and moved the ball down the floor, but a charge call gave possession to the Crusaders with 18.1 seconds left.

With time winding down, Geistfeld stole the ball and was fouled with 12 seconds remaining in the contest. He sank one of two free throws and the time elapsed on the Crusaders’ comeback attempt.

Geistfeld ended with a team-high 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field.

MCW head coach Cliff Anderson said his team made clutch plays down the stretch to seal the win.

“Our effort was fantastic tonight,” Anderson said. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, give Loyola credit for that and we didn’t shoot well from the free throw line, but we battled and we made enough big plays at the end to get a big conference win for us to stay undefeated.”

It was a tough night from the free throw line for both teams with the Mavericks and Crusaders combining to shoot 15-for-34 from the stripe. The Mavericks hit 9 of 19 and the Crusaders made 6 out of 15.

MCW came out of the half up 26-23. Although the team shot 12 of 20 from the field in the second half, it’s lead never got bigger than 5, because Ellingworth caught fire.

The game’s scoring leader hit six 3s in the second half on 10 attempts to keep the Crusaders in the game, while the rest of the team shot 4-for-14 from the field.

Anderson said his team kept its composure to hold off the Crusaders’ and Ellingworth’s comeback attempt.

“We didn’t guard No. 0 (Ellingworth) very well tonight,” Anderson said. “But our kids have some experience now and they kept their composure and we did the little things we needed to do down the stretch to not turn it over.”

Ellingworth was able to tie the game once in the closing half and get his team back within two multiple times, but was never able to take the lead.

While Ellingworth kept the Crusaders involved, Geistfeld was helping the Mavericks stay out front.

Geistfeld put up 12 of his 22 points in the second half and grabbed six second-half rebounds to give him a double-double with 10 on the game.

Angel Reyes hit two of his three 3s in the second half for six points to help the Mavericks close the game and Kolton Larson hit three clutch post lay-ins.

Dawson Weber hit three 3s in the game and made both of his free throw attempts late in the matchup.

Nick Beseke played the role of playmaking point guard with a game-leading eight assists, with two players tied for second on the game with three (Larson and Mankato Loyola’s Simon Morgan).

With the Mavericks on a hot streak, Anderson credits the work the team puts in every day in practice.

“We’re working hard,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to get better every day in practice and work harder on defense. It’s a work in progress to keep getting better and peak at the end of the season.”

MCW (7-5, 6-0 Valley) travels to Nicollet Saturday for a 7 p.m. game. Mankato Loyola (8-7, 5-1 Valley) plays host to Cleveland on Tuesday.

Loyola 23-31–54

M.C. West 26-32–58

MCW (58)

Geistfeld 9-13 4-10 22; D Weber 3-8 2-2 11; Reyes 3-10 0-0 9; Larson 4-6 0-0 9; Z Anderson 1-2 2-5 4; Beseke 1-5 0-0 2; Miller 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 21-43 9-19 58.

LOYOLA (54)

Ellingworth 7-13 4-4 25; Kane 7-13 1-2 16; I Godfrey 2-8 0-5 6; Morgan 3-6 0-2 6; L Godfrey 0-1 1-2 1; Kujawa 0-2 0-0 0; Casteel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-44 6-15 54.

3-pointers: MCW 7-20 (Reyes 3, D Weber 3); Loyola 10 (Ellingworth 7). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: MCW 23 (Geistfeld 10, Anderson 4); Loyola 28 (Kane 9, I Godfrey 5, Morgan 5). Assists: MCW 15 (Beseke 8, Larson 3); Loyola 14 (Morgan 3). Steals: MCW 7; Loyola 1.

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