Gael girls edge Knights

Relentless defensive pressure told the story for the St. Edmond girls basketball team here Saturday night.

Stepping out of North Central Conference play, the Gaels (16-2 overall) dodged a bullet with a nail-biting 46-43 triumph over Carroll Kuemper at the SEHS gym.

Sophomore point guard Jaci Stumpf powered the balanced offensive attack for St. Edmond with a game-high 13 points, while classmate Anna Yung and junior Alli Huss each netted 12. The Gaels, who have now won four straight games, held the Knights to only 36.6 percent shooting from the field.

“We just played great total team defense,” Gael head coach Scott Messerly said. “(Kuemper) can really shoot threes (the Knights had made 80 triples on the season coming in) and is hard to guard, but I thought our quickness kind of bothered them and made it real tough to get any easy looks.

“Hopefully, a win like this can give our girls something more to build on before heading into tournaments (SEHS will host either Kuemper or Prairie Valley in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal on Feb. 12).”

Trailing by as many as five points early in the second quarter, the Gaels used a 22-9 spurt to briefly gain control midway through the third. After a 21-14 run by the Knights closed the gap to just a single point late, Stumpf calmly drained a pair of clutch free throws with three seconds remaining for the final margin of victory.

“Offensively, we made some big shots when we needed them most,” said Messerly. “We also had some nice play off the bench from Brigid (Hanley) and Madeline (Baldwin).”

Hannah Dentlinger and Maria Dentlinger both delivered 11 points for the Knights (10-7), while Kierstyn Bauer added eight. Iowa State signee Lexi Albrecht, who came in averaging a team-high 14.9 points a night, was limited to just seven on 1-for-9 shooting. Albrecht also missed a potential game-tying longball from beyond halfcourt as the final buzzer sounded.

“Jaci wanted the difficult assignment of guarding Albrecht, and she locked her down,” Messerly said. “I thought holding her in check (offensively) was probably the difference in the end.”

Despite the win, the Gaels went just 12-for-27 from the charity stripe, including 9 of 19 in the final frame. SEHS, which avenged last year’s 67-43 setback to the Knights, committed 14 turnovers compared to 21 for Kuemper.

“No matter how hard we tried, we could never really put (Kuemper) away,” said Messerly. “This was an awfully exciting game to coach.”

Next action for St. Edmond is Tuesday at NCC rival Webster City (2-15).