By Brenda Erdahl, Sports Editor
The Irish boys basketball team ended their season a little earlier than hoped, but not before setting some school milestones in a year of unexpected accomplishments.
A winning season, including a Central Minnesota Conference Championship put the Maple Lake team in a good position, holding the No. 4 seed going into the Section 6AA Tournament last week.
On Thursday, March 8, they cruised to a 74-52 home win over No. 13 seed Spectrum to advance on to game two held on Saturday, March 10, at St. John’s University.
That’s where they met No. 5 seed Eden Valley-Watkins. The Eagles and the Irish are familiar foes and there are no easy points when these two teams meet. The Irish came out on top during both of their regular season encounters, but the playoffs are a different animal and less than perfect shooting on the part of the Irish gave the Eagles the edge they needed for the 39-37 upset.
“Not many people would’ve have guessed after starting the year 2-3 that we would finish 22-6. The 22 wins are the third most in a season in school history,” Irish Head Coach Tim Staloch said. “They brought home a conference championship and made lifetime memories along the way.”
Both Maple Lake and Spectrum ball players shot the ball well on Thursday. In the first half, the Irish were 13-19 from the field. The Sting switched their defenses often trying to keep the home team off balance, but the Irish did a good job figuring out their strategy and attacking accordingly, Staloch said.
“We did a great job moving the ball inside and out and side to side,” he said.
By the half, Maple Lake was up 34-29.
With the score at 48-41 the Irish went to a zone defense that was effective in breaking Spectrum’s offensive rhythm, and Maple Lake ended up outscoring them 26-11 the rest of the way.
Mitch Hoistad led the Irish with 27 points, three rebounds and two assists. Andy Mavencamp supplied 12 points along with two rebounds and four assists and Cole Trager and Joseph Stokman each had 11 points. Trager also pulled down eight rebounds and two assists and Stokman had five rebounds and five assists. Alex Toedter had eight points, nine rebounds and four assists.
“The guys put together another excellent game of team basketball. We did a very good job sharing the ball, generating 19 assists, and taking care of the ball only committing six turnovers,” Staloch said.
To read about Saturday’s game, subscribe to The Maple Lake Messenger today!