No. 5 Gael girls pull through

HUMBOLDT -Tested for most of the game, the fifth-ranked (Class 2A) St. Edmond girls basketball team pulled away down the stretch for a 63-52 victory over Humboldt here Tuesday night.

Up by just five points entering the fourth quarter, the Gaels (15-1 overall, 14-1 in the North Central Conference) delivered the knockout blow with a 12-2 run over a span of less than four minutes.

Alli Huss, a senior forward, registered her 12th double-double of the season for SEHS, contributing 19 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out late.

Juniors Anna Yung and Jaci Stumpf netted 16 points each for the defending NCC co-champion Gaels, who pushed their winning streak to five straight games.

“Playing on the road, we saw a Humboldt team (last night) that really came out and played hard,” St. Edmond head coach Scott Messerly said. “I didn’t think our defense was very good, especially in the first half. In the second half, though, I felt we did a much better job on the boards. Getting 19, 16 and 16 (points) from our big three of Alli, Anna and Jaci was huge again. Clare (Flattery) and Brigid (Hanley) both gave us a nice spark off the bench, too.”

On Senior Night, the Wildcats actually led by as many as five early in the second period after a Lindsey Johnson banked in triple from the top of the key. The Gaels then responded with a 17-8 burst to close out the half behind six points from Huss. Despite slicing the deficit to a single hoop on two different occasions in the third, Humboldt failed to ever get over the hump.

“Humboldt was able to change up its defense a lot, which bothered us a little bit at times,” said Messerly. “They would go from a 2-3 (zone) to kind of a triangle, but we still found a way to get some easy baskets by passing the ball well inside.”

Kessa Kuyper, a junior, anchored the Wildcats (7-8, 7-6) with 18 points and 12 boards. Senior Lauren Friesth tallied 12 points. Following 14 consecutive made free throws to start the contest, Humboldt went 0-for-6 at the charity stripe in the last 3:04.

“I feel like we’ve been playing better basketball of late, but (the Gaels) are a talented and well-coached team,” HHS head coach Rodd Mooney said. “They didn’t panic and never cracked. Our posts did a nice job, and we also shot the ball prety well (Tuesday), which are two things you’re going to need to beat them. Unfortunately, we just fell a little short.”

As a team, St. Edmond shot 41.4 percent from the field compared to just 32.1 for the Wildcats. Humboldt committed only 11 turnovers to 13 for the Gaels.

In addition to Johnson and Friesth, Wildcat seniors Madison Thomas, Karlee Peyton, Brittney Nilles, Sarah Peters and April Jones were all recognized after Tuesday’s game.

Earlier this winter, SEHS rolled to a 66-30 triumph over the Wildcats back on Jan. 7. Since the start of the 2008-09 campaign, the Gaels have now prevailed over Humboldt in 12 straight meetings.

Looking to avenge its only loss of the season, St. Edmond welcomes No. 2 (3A) Clear Lake (14-1, 13-0) on Friday. Humboldt visits Clarion-Goldfield (10-8, 7-8) that same night.

“Friday is a much win if we want to stay in the conference race,” said Messerly. “With no school (Monday) and a late start (Tuesday), it was good to get back into a rhythm. Now, we have two days to prepare for Clear Lake.”