Balcom lifts Mustangs by Knights

NORTHROP – Granada-Huntley-East Chain senior forward Anna Balcom scored a career-high 23 points to go along with her 10 rebounds to lead the Mustangs basketball team to a 58-41 nonconference victory over the Martin Luther Knights on Monday night in Northrop.

Both teams traded baskets in the early stages, with the Mustangs grabbing the first lead thanks to a Alex Stennes 3-pointer to make it 11-7 at the 9:35 juncture of the opening frame.

The Knights’ fleet-footed Catie Sherman then intercepted a Mustang pass and drove the length of the floor, missing the layup. Thankfully for the Knights, Hunter Payne trailed the play to grab the carom and sank the shot for two of her team-leading 11 points to get the home team within two.

The turnover-turned-basket gave Martin Luther some much needed momentum, sparking a 10-2 run midway through the first half.

“We really talked about stopping Rachel Shumski. She’s been playing great for them, and she finished with three points, so we did a good job there,” said Martin Luther head coach Leslie Wokasch. “Unfortunately, Balcom played great and we didn’t seem to have enough fire to respond.”

GHEC guard Amanda Cegelske stopped the Knights’ offensive run, hitting a jumper to cut the visitors’ deficit to 17-13.

Kayley Shoen provided an extra spark off the bench for Martin Luther, scoring seven points and causing turnovers on defense.

Balcom proceeded to net 10 of her 23 points and grabbed six of her 10 boards to help the Mustangs build a three-point halftime lead.

“Anna and Amanda have been working together a lot on the high-low. They know that they have the freedom to switch positions and improvise in the offense. Tonight, they really did a good job of that,” said GHEC head coach Rich Uttech.

Cegelske and Balcom took advantage of the Knights’ defense, working the high-low post play early and often in the second half to help the Mustangs maintain their lead.

“We came out after halftime and we had the lead, so we played man (to-man defense) for the first time in a while. We knew that Shoen can beat you off the dribble, so we gave her room and wanted her to shoot from the outside. I think that defense really helped us keep pressure on and take control,” said Uttech.

It was Stennes’ shooting behind the arc that truly sealed the victory. Stennes went 1-for-4 in the first half, but lit up the scoreboard for nine straight points on the strength of three 3-pointers to make it 48-37 with 7:40 remaining in the second half.

Sherman tried to answer for the Knights, hitting a 3 from the right wing to make it 48-40.

Unfortunately for Martin Luther, Payne would score its only other point in the final minutes, sinking one of two from the charity stripe.

With her three 3s, Stennes finished with 14 points, while Cegelske also reached double figures with 10 points for the Mustangs.

Despite foul trouble, Shumski grabbed five rebounds for GHEC, along with Ryley Becker and Cegelske each pulling down five boards.

Sherman finished with 10 points for the Knights, behind Payne’s 11 and Shoen’s seven points.

Payne also snagged eight boards, while teammate Amber Schulz grabbed six caroms.

Granada-Huntley-East Chain (9-6, 6-4 Valley) plays host to St. Clair in a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game on Thursday in East Chain.

Martin Luther (10-8, 7-4 Valley) hosts Mountain Lake Area in a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game tonight.

New Ulm Cathedral 66, Truman 29 – Paige Pautzke netted 13 points and teammate Kristin Mohr added 10 more to propel the Greyhounds to a 66-29 non-league victory over the Bluejays on Monday night in New Ulm.

Brooke McDonald scored 13 points to top Truman, Emily Zaharia grabbed seven rebounds, while Briannia Pearson distributed five assists and pocketed three steals.

The Bluejays made 11 of 13 free throws on the game, while the Greyhounds sank 10 of 20 at the stripe.

Truman (1-19) plays host to Madelia on Thursday.

Truman 21- 8-29

NUC 38-28-66