Avenging an earlier season defeat, Mankato Loyola downed the host Cleveland Clipper boys 68-59 on Monday in the first round of the Valley Conference Showcase tournament.
It was yet another game where the Clippers were ahead at the intermission but didn’t hang on. Meanwhile, working as a team from the jump to the final buzzer, the Crusaders showed they wanted the win.
“They did a nice job taking us out of our high-low action,” said head coach Dan Fredrickson. “We got a little impatient on offense once we made that first pass. If the immediate action wasn’t there, we kind of fell into just playing.”
With Ben Holden and Eric Rohlfing scoring all but four of Cleveland’s points, the Clippers were ahead 27-26 at the half, despite their 10 turnovers, including seven on Loyola steals, and Loyola’s six three pointers.
“We’re snake bitten by these turnovers,” Fredrickson said. “We’re trying to play too fast at inappropriate times,”
Rohlfing, Holden and Isaac Mueller scored inside early in the first half, but capitalizing on a Cleveland travel call, the Crusaders went up 32-31.
Holden rebounded and scored, but the Crusaders scored again and then caught the Clippers napping when they swiped the ensuing in-bounds pass and put in an easy basket to pull ahead 36-35.The 4-point trip down the floor gave them a lead they would never relinquish.
The Clippers flustered after that, gave up another three after a Crusader steal.
Up 43-39, with 10 and a half minutes remaining, Loyola sunk another three. Holden responded quickly with the first of two threes the Clippers would have in the game, but the Crusaders pulled down a couple of offensive rebounds and scored and then took advantage of another Cleveland travel to arc a three for a 51-42 advantage.
The Crusaders slowed the pace after that and made their foul shots to hang on to the win.
Holden led the Clipper effort with 25 points. Rohlfing scored 19.
“We can’t stress enough how the ball has to go through them,” Fredrickson said. “It can’t be throw the ball in to them once and all of a sudden we have a license to shot. If we get the ball inside, lanes open up, and it makes the game so much easier for everyone else.”
Mueller added a dozen points. Holden had 14 rebounds and five blocks.
The Crusaders sunk 10 shots from behind the arc. The Clippers committed 16 fouls and made all seven of their free-throw attempts. Loyola had 11 fouls and was 12 of 13 in free throw shooting.
The Clippers continue their showcase action on Friday when they look to avenge a loss to host Madelia.Mankato Loyola 26 42 68
Cleveland 27 32 59
Cleveland 59 (Ben Holden 25, Levi Baker 2, Eric Rohlfing 19, Isaac Mueller 12, Elijah Sullivan 3)
Rebounds 24 (Holden 14, Isaac Mueller 4, Rohlfing 4, Baker 1, Dylla 1)
Assists 16 (Isaac Mueller 5, Rohlfing 3, Baker 2, Luke Mueller 1, Holden 3, Sullivan 3)
Steals 9 (Isaac Mueller 2, Rohlfing 2, Sullivan 2, Baker 1, Holden 2)
Blocks 5 (Holden 5)
2FG 23-39 (59%)
3FG 2-12 (17%) (Holden 1, Sullivan 1)
FT 7-7 (100%)