The Maple Lake boys basketball team secured the Central Minnesota Conference title after defeating Pierz 53-40 at home, Friday, March 2, in the final regular season game of the season.
Irish defense led the way and made up for an offense that wasn’t as crisp as it has been at other times during the season. Maple Lake defense kept the Pioneers from taking advantage of easy shot attempts in the half court, didn’t allow transition points, and did a good job of keeping them off the free throw line, according to Head Coach Tim Staloch.
Despite offense not being as sharp, the Irish ball players still delivered a balanced scoring attack to give the home team a 21- 12 lead by the break.
Maple Lake continued to dominate in the second half of the game, outscoring the Pioneers 32- 28 to finish the conference season with a 13-1 record and 21-5 overall.
“It was a terrific way to honor the seniors in their last regular season game at home,” coach Staloch said. “The six of them have been a major reason for out team’s success and have helped keep our team focused, working hard, and having fun.”
The Irish shot 43 percent from the field, to the Pioneer’s 33. The home team also connected on nine of 24 three point attempts, and shot 72 percent from the free throw line.
The Irish begin the playoff season on Thursday, March 8, at home as the high seed. Maple Lake, the No. 4 seed, will take on No. 13 seeded Spectrum at 7 p.m. If the Irish win, they will play again on Saturday, March 10 at St. John’s University at 2:30 p.m.
“We are excited about playoffs. Our section is very tough. We have five conference champions, seven teams with 20 or more wins, and 12 teams with winning records. Our guys know we can compete with anybody and are excited about the challenge ahead of us,” Staloch said.