Fourth-ranked (Class 2A) St. Edmond was put to the test here Tuesday night vs. Humboldt.
After seeing a 14-point advantage slip away, the Gaels withstood an all-out offensive barrage by Jaxon Heinz, scoring a 60-58 victory over the Wildcats inside the SEHS gym.
Heinz dropped in a game-high 27, including 20 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to put a dent in St. Edmond’s (9-0 overall, 8-0 in North Central Conference) perfect record.
Robby Burke nearly matched Heinz, posting 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Konrad Laufersweiler added 17 and 10. Landon Peed had nine and five assists, while Matthew Bocken also dished out five assists.
“That was a close one,” SEHS head coach Adolph Kochendorfer admitted after the final horn sounded. “We knew Heinz would be a tough kid to defend, and he did a great job of rallying (Humboldt) back.
“But I thought our guys were strong, as well, in terms of recovering from their run and being patient with the basketball late in the game.”
The Wildcats (7-2, 6-2), who had their six-game win streak snapped, held the ball for the final possession. Heinz drove and found Nick Heider in the corner – in front of a large Humboldt cheering section – for the potential game-winning three.
Laufersweiler, who provided weak side help on the dribble-drive, partially blocked Heider’s attempt and Burke came down with the ball.
“The kids are pretty hurt right now from the loss, but we talked to them and told them they did everything we asked,” first-year Wildcat head coach Jake Mohling said. “They executed almost perfectly the entire game and really showed a lot of heart battling back.
“Jaxon had a heck of a game, and Nick played well; we just didn’t get that same kind of balance scoring that we have had over these last few games.”
Mohling also credited the Gaels, saying “we knew they would come out with something to counter our zone, which they did. This is a tough place to play and St. Edmond is, St. Edmond; they are a strong team year in and year out.”
The Gaels started the game with seven assists on their first seven made field goals, jumping out to a 24-14 advantage after the first. Humboldt cut the deficit to five at halftime thanks to a change in defenses that limited Burke to zero field goal attempts.
“Once we started seeing the openings, we took advantage with Robby in the post,” Kochendorfer said. “Our kids did a nice job of staying patient and playing within themselves when things got tough.”
Humboldt benefited from exceptional three-point shooting, hitting nine triples – including five from Heinz. The difference, though, could be found at the charity stripe, as St. Edmond went 14 of 17 from the line, compared to 1-for-4 by the Wildcats.
“We just don’t have the kind of height to battle down low all game,” Mohling said. “Once they started tossing it over the defense to Burke, we were just a second too late.”
Leading 59-55 with under 10 seconds to go, sophomore Thomas Orness drained a college-range three-pointer. Peed hauled in a perfectly thrown in-bounds pass from Bocken – something the duo did several times in the fall on the football field – and made a free throw to provide the final margin.
St. Edmond returns to action on Thursday at No. 2 (3A) Clear Lake beginning at 7 p.m., while Humboldt hosts Clarion-Goldfield on Friday.
The Lions (8-0, 8-0) defeated the Cowboys last night, 92-62.