Loyola boys hoops 1/14

Faribault Bethlehem Academy’s Chris Palmer shoots over Mankato Loyola’s Joe Fink (23) and D.J. Wesely during the second half Tuesday.

Seniors Chris Palmer and Drew Mathews sparked a 21-2 first-half surge Tuesday night to lead No. 3-ranked Faribault Bethlehem Academy to a 71-53 Gopher Conference boys basketball win over Mankato Loyola at Fitzgerald gym.

Palmer, a 6-foot-4 guard, and Mathews, a 6-5 forward, fired in 24 points apiece as the Cardinals improved to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in Gopher play. Senior guard Trieu Ho put through a career-high 22 points for the Crusaders, who fall to 7-3 and 6-1.

“They were physical and they were tall, so it was like a double-edged sword,” Ho said. “They really picked up the pace and D’d it up. We just fell apart after that. They’ve got great, well-rounded players. We tried to shut their stud players down and isolate them with our good defenders, but they were just too much tonight.”

Ho and senior guard D.J. Wesely buried 3-pointers as the Crusaders grabbed an early 8-2 lead. Palmer then hit a driving banker and left-side 3-pointer before Ho’s 12-footer gave Loyola its final lead of the contest at 10-7.

Palmer converted three foul shots to begin a string of 16 unanswered points by the Cardinals. Mathews had a 10-foot runner and two free throws in the run while junior Ryan Slattery nailed a 3-pointer off the left baseline.

“They rebounded the ball better than any team we’ve played,” Loyola coach John Landkamer said. “If you don’t make your first shot, you’re probably not going to get a second one. We tried to shut down those two guys but they seemed to get the ball in the right spots.”

Mathews’ nine-point flurry — a 3-pointer, two medium-range jumpers and a pair of driving hoops — helped the Cardinals gain a 36-21 halftime lead. Bethlehem Academy, which missed 10 of its first 11 shots, ended up 30 of 62 from the field.

“We started getting the ball in the middle and the high-low really helped out,” Palmer said. “We want to get an even mix offensively. We knew we could get some easy buckets in transition and when you do that it makes everything else easier.”

Both teams turned the ball over 12 times, with the Cardinals enjoying a 42-27 rebounding edge. Palmer hauled down 14 boards while Mathews grabbed nine boards and a team-best four assists. Jordan Clark and Slattery added eight points each.

Rob Tanhoff scored eight points and pulled down six caroms for the Crusaders, who also got six points and seven boards from senior wing Joe Fink.

Loyola hosts Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Saturday.

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