BREESE — The voices of celebration emanating from Mater Dei's locker room served as a testament to the Knights' sky-high confidence level right now.
The Knights had six players score between seven and 13 points as they beat the Althoff Crusaders 61-38 on Thursday in girls basketball.
"You can hear from the excitement that they're happy with the way they're playing right now,'' Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen said. "They're moving the ball, their kicking it in and kicking out. Everybody is sharing, and it's a good team chemistry right now.''
Madeline Lager led the Knights (10-6) with 13 points, followed by Olivia Theising and Chloe Beckmann with nine points, Avoynna Kampwerth and Lauren Donnewald with eight points and Lindsey Perkes with seven.
Kampwerth and Donnewald provided the inside presence to complement the Knights' outside sharp shooters.
"You have to have that,'' Kohnen said of his inside game. "I don't care if you don't even shoot the ball, you have to kick it inside once in a while. You see that with anyone, even NCAA men's (teams). If you don't get the ball inside once in a while, you're not going to win.''
The Crusaders (6-5) were by led by freshman Kyliegh Vaught's 18 points. They had no other player score more than six points as they struggled to score consistently against Mater Dei's 2-3 zone defense.
"I kind of figured he was going to do that,'' Althoff coach Todd Hill said. "I saw them play against Highland (on Saturday), and they played zone. We had worked on some things against the 2-3 zone.
"A couple of times we got some good looks when we got our posts to come across hard, but then what happens, you hit a couple of 3s and you start falling in love with the 3 and stop playing inside-out.''
Neither team had school Thursday, but both coaches were glad to get in a game on a night when most teams were still idle because of the snowstorm that struck the metro-east early in the week.
"With the group we have, a really young group, I'll be honest, we'd like to play games like this every night,'' Hill said. "Mater Dei runs its offense really well. That's how you get better. Playing against people pushes you to understand the game.
"With so many young kids, like I told the girls in the locker room, we're going to watch this film several times because it is a good thing for us to understand and get better from.''
Theising and Donnewald scored on layups as the Knights charged out to an 8-0 lead.
The Knights led 15-5 after two free throws by Donnewald.
The Crusaders scored the final six points of the first quarter, including a long 3-pointer by Vaught, to close the gap to 18-12.
The Crusaders drew within 20-15 on a 3 from Madison Weilbacher.
Beckmann and Perkes then drained 3s to key an 8-0 run that put the Knights ahead 28-15.
Vaught had a rare four-point play -- she scored on a layup and added two one-and-one free throws after being fouled well after the shot -- to get the Crusaders back within 28-21.
The Knights scored the final eight points of the first half and first seven points of the second half to break open the game.
A 3 from Lager capped the 15-0 run and put the Knights in charge 43-21.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.