By Brenda Erdahl, Sports Editor
The Irish boys basketball team improved its record to 20-5 after two wins and one loss last week, and continues to lead the Central Minnesota Conference with a 12- 1 record, but it will take one more win on Friday, March 2 to secure the championship outright.
The Irish kicked off last week’s play on Tuesday, Feb. 20 with a 51-39 loss to Breck School. On Thursday, Feb. 22, Maple Lake traveled to Holdingford and won 65-34. On Monday, Feb. 26, the Irish hosted Howard Lake-Waverly- Winsted and won 52-35.
The Irish had its worst shooting night of the year against Breck. By the half, Maple Lake was down 25-12. Solid defense kept the Irish in the game and they continued to take care of the ball against Breck’s aggressive defense all evening. Breck outshot the Irish by only one point in the second half, 27-26.
Maple Lake shot only 26 percent to Breck’s 54 percent, made five of 32 attempted three-point shots and had 10 turnovers.
“We had decent looks at the basket they were just not falling,” Irish Head Coach Tim Staloch said. “Other than that, we played okay.”
Cole Trager led scoring with 12 points plus seven rebounds and one assist. Andy Mavencamp contributed eight points, and Joseph Stokman had six.
In stark contrast to Tuesday night’s play, on Thursday, Maple Lake went out against Holdingford and put together the best three-point shooting night of the year.
The Irish connected on 15 of 23 three-point shots for a 65 percent shooting accuracy. Joseph Stokman supplied eight of those three pointers; Mitch Hoistad had three; Zack Eder buried two; Trager had one, and Andy Mavencamp had one.
“We did a great job finding open shooters and guys knocked down shots. Besides the hot shooting, our defense was very good, and we dominated the rebounding department,” Staloch said.
By the half, the Irish were up 36-19. After the break, Maple Lake outscored the Huskers 29- 15, shooting 53 percent from the field compared to the Huskers’ 30 percent. Holdingford shot 18 percent from the three-point mark.
“The players deserve a lot of credit for the improvement on the defensive side of the ball. We still have things that need to be improved, but they are taking pride in making it as difficult as possible for teams to score. We know the shooting can vary from night to night, but the guys know if we play well at the defensive end we will be competitive every game,” Staloch said.
Stokman led scoring for the Irish with 26 points; he also contributed four rebounds and two assists. Hoistad stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists; Alex Toedter scored six points, grabbed four rebounds, and had one assist. Zack Eder also had six points in the win.
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