Big week for Gaels

Putting their unbeaten records on the line, the St. Edmond boys and girls basketball teams return to the court for two more North Central Conference doubleheaders this week.

The Gaels welcome Humboldt tonight before visiting Clear Lake on Thursday.

Tip for this evening’s girls game is set for 6:15 p.m., followed by the boys matchup at around 7:45 p.m. Thursday’s start times are 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

In their last outing on Saturday afternoon, the fourth-ranked (Class 2A) SEHS boys (8-0 overall, 7-0 in the NCC) earned a 49-41 league victory at rival Bishop Garrigan.

“I thought we played pretty well this past weekend at Garrigan, which is always a tough place to play,” St. Edmond head coach Adolph Kochendorfer said. “One thing I’d still like to see us improve on, though, is taking a little better care of the basketball.”

Robby Burke, a 6-foot-6 senior, leads the Gaels in both scoring (24.5) and rebounding (13.4), while shooting an impressive 66.4 percent (81-for-122) from the field. Burke, who has posted eight double-doubles this season, is actually tied for seventh among all 2A players in scoring and is third in rebounding.

Senior Konrad Laufersweiler (15.1) and junior Landon Peed (8.3) are St. Edmond’s other top scoring threats. Laufersweiler has also grabbed 92 boards, and junior Matthew Bocken has dished out 42 assists.

Juniors Jaxon Heinz (14.8), Brady Ross (11.9) and Austin Zylstra (10.6) all average in double figures for the Wildcats (7-1, 6-1), who received three votes in the latest 3A poll. Since dropping a 74-62 decision at Clear Lake back on Dec. 6, Humboldt has won six straight games, including a 72-60 triumph at Iowa Falls-Alden on Friday.

“We’re expecting a pretty tough game against Humboldt,” said Kochendorfer. “If you look at their stats, everybody shoots the ball pretty well (the Wildcats are firing at a 50.3 percent clip from the field). We need to defend them as a whole, and hopefully keep them off the boards.”

No. 2 (3A) Clear Lake (7-0, 7-0) is spearheaded by seniors Davis Dieken (18.4) and Spencer Davidson (15.5) and junior Matt Stephany (12.7). The 6-foot-5 Dieken pulls down 10 rebounds a night.

“Clear Lake is loaded this year,” Kochendorfer said. “(The Lions) and Humboldt are the top two teams in the conference. We’re not going to have much of a layover with games on Tuesday and Thursday. I’m sure after this week we’ll have a better idea of where we stand.”

Scott Messerly’s fifth-ranked (2A) St. Edmond girls (9-0, 8-0) rolled past Bishop Garrigan by a 71-47 final on Saturday. Senior Alli Huss (19.9), junior Anna Yung (18.4) and junior Jaci Stumpf (10.6) form a reliable 1-2-3 offensive punch for the defending NCC co-champion Gaels. Huss has collected a team-high 97 boards, while Stumpf has delivered 87 assists and 41 steals.

SEHS, which allows just 32.9 points a night, has won every game this winter by at least 12 points.

“We had a nice win at Garrigan, and we’re playing pretty well right now,” said Messerly. “I don’t know if we’re in as good of shape as we need to be coming out of the break, but I think our depth helps us out a lot.”

Humboldt (4-4, 4-3) leans heavily on senior Lauren Friesth (10.6) and junior Kessa Kuyper (9.5). The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back wins over Webster City (48-44) and Iowa Falls-Alden (38-19).

“We’ve seen Friesth and (Madison) Thomas for about four years now, so they have a lot of experience there,” Messerly said of Humboldt. “I expect us to see a few different things from Humboldt (defensively).”

Following a 48-39 setback to then-No. 5 and reigning 5A state semifinalist Mason City in its season debut, fifth-ranked (3A) Clear Lake (7-1, 7-0) has prevailed in seven straight games.

Senior Trudy Peterson (12.6), junior Lindsey Loudenberg (11.8) and senior Logan Anderson (11.4) are the main weapons for the Lions.

St. Edmond has downed Humboldt 10 consecutive times, while beating Clear Lake 11 games in a row.