By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
When Mankato Loyola was patient in the halfcourt offense, there was some success.
But when the Crusaders hoisted quick 3-pointers, and didn’t make them, there was trouble.
“I think sometimes, kids get caught up in the emotions of the game,” Loyola coach Tim Anderson said. “When things were going well early, we got away with some of our quick shots. We want to run every time, but if we don’t get a layup, we need to set it up and get a good shot.”
Loyola made a late 14-0 run to save the season, defeating Southwestern United 75-69 in the quarterfinals of the Section 2A, South Subsection boys basketball playoffs Monday at Fitzgerald gym. Southwestern United ended Loyola’s season a year ago in the subsection semifinals.
“We really wanted to beat them,” junior Carson Seifert said. “They knocked us out last year.”
In the first half, Loyola, the No. 4 seed in the subsection, was aggressive to the basket, trying to force the pace at every opportunity.
A 15-4 run, capped by a pair of Evan Ellingworth layups made it 23-12 with 8:36 remaining in the first half. However, Brandon Thurk hit a couple of corner 3-pointers, helping the Wildcats score 12 straight points to go ahead 29-27 at the four-minute mark.
Another Loyola surge, with Ryan Van Blarcom’s 3-pointer, gave the Crusaders a six-point cushion, but the Wildcats trimmed that to 35-34 at halftime. Loyola was 2 of 10 on 3-pointers in the opening half.
“We just needed to take better shots,” Seifert said. “And play better defense.”
Southwestern United went up six after five minutes of the second half, then led by eight five minutes later as post Zach Schumacher scored 10 points in that stretch.
“I was concerned,” Anderson said. “We were struggling at both ends. I thought that press kind of turned things around.”
Alexander Peimentel started the Crusaders’ rally with a driving basket, then Connor Tanhoff did the same. Four free throws preceded a 3-pointer by Lance Gaspar, who also had three offensive rebounds in the late rally.
Piementel’s three-point play, and a 3-pointer by Seifert pushed the lead to double digits. Piementel sealed the victory with four free throws in the final 25 seconds.
“Our halfcourt offense needs to be better,” Anderson said. “We need to defend better because we don’t have a shot-blocker. They were getting too many easy baskets.”
Seifert finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Piementel had 13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Gaspar scored 12 points, and Ellingworth added 10.
Schumacher, a 6-foot-5 post, scored 26 points, with 18 in the second half for Southwestern United. Thurk had 18 points, with four 3-pointers.
Loyola (13-14) takes on No. 1 seed Mountain Lake Area at 6 p.m. Thursday in St. James.