By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
The STMA girls’ basketball team picked up two more conference wins, bringing its conference record to 9-0 (15-4 overall); standalone first place in the Mississippi 8.
After a tough loss against St. Cloud Tech, the Knights returned home and welcomed the Fighting Saints of St. Francis. Looking to get back on track, the Knights went on the attack, holding the Saints to just four points, all from the free throw line, in the first 14 minutes. The Knights led by 30 points at halftime.
Things stayed the same in the second half, as the Knights were relentless. The defense forced 32 turnovers and held the Saints to a shooting percentage of 24%. Rae Johnson, Lizzy Heil and Bobbi Brendefur led in the steals category as they combined for 13.
Senior Erin Autio led with 14 points. Johnson and Sydney Tracy added 10 points each. Tracy went 5 for 5 from the floor. All 13 girls on the roster got playing time in the game, with all but one recording some kind of offensive or defensive statistic. Jaymie Hansen did not score, but she grabbed a game-high six rebounds.
Coach Hamre said the game was a nice bounce back after the setback against St. Cloud Tech.
“They were a young team with not a lot of experience so we knew the importance of getting up on them early and taking away any confidence they might have,” he said. Hamre also praised his bench players for their efforts.
“It was great getting so much production from the bench. They all chipped in and it was a great team effort.”
Autio said that as a senior, the other girls look to her for leadership.
“Me and Sydney have been told by (Coach) Hamre that we’re the leaders. We’ve got to take power on the court and we’ve got to bring everybody’s energy up.”
After beating St. Francis, the Knights collected another road victory against the North Branch Vikings.
In this game, STMA got off to a slow start, scoring only after North Branch put the first six points on the board. After the Knights eventually tied the game at 10, the team spent the next 11 minutes scoring 32 points to take a 42-24 lead into the break.
The second half saw the Knights virtually match the Vikings bucket for bucket as the team came away with a 69-52 victory. Hamre said his team had struggled against the zone defense during the season, so a victory here helped.
“We really executed our offense well. We knew they would zone us and we were prepared for their zone and executed what we wanted.”
The Knights shot 50% from the field. Brendefur led all scorers with 20 points while Jordyn Walker scored 17. Josie Burns had a perfect night at the free throw line and finished with five points and three rebounds.
The Knights faced Buffalo in a road doubleheader on Tuesday. They host Duluth East on Thursday.