Sleepwalking through much of the first quarter the Mater Dei Knights wake-up call arrived at just the right time Wednesday at Althoff High School.
Seniors Lauren Donnewald and Chloe Beckmann combined for 11 second-quarter points as part of a 19-2 Knights’ scoring spurt and Mater Dei never looked back as it went on for a 49-41 nonconference win.
Not 24 hours after a disappointing 44-39 loss to Waterloo, Althoff (8-10) jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on a 3-pointer from sophomore Kyleigh Vaught and a short jumper by sophomore Emily Myatt.
But when Donnewald and Grace Chiarolanza scored 30 seconds apart midway through the first quarter, the Knights grabbed control and never let up as they cruised past the Crusaders in a battle of top area Class 3A teams.
With five players scoring, Mater Dei led 11-10 after one period, then broke the game open with its 19-2 second-quarter advantage. The Knights (8-7) led 30-12 at halftime and were never seriously threatened in the final two quarters.
“I don’t know what was going on the first three or four minutes of the game. I thought maybe we were still asleep on the bus,’’ Knights coach David Kohnen said. “But after the first few minutes, I was pleased. I thought we showed good patience on the offensive end of the floor and played good defense. Overall, I was pleased with our efforts.
“I also liked the fact that we had some kids come off the bench and contribute a basket or two. That was good to see.’’
What Althoff coach Todd Hill didn’t like seeing was Mater Dei takling advantage of a cold-shooting Crusaders squad which is still going through some heavy growing pains.
Playing much of the first half with four sophomores and a freshman on the floor, things went south quickly for the Crusaders after a solid first quarter. Allthoff went more than five minutes without a basket and had five turnovers in a stretch where Mater Dei scored 13 straight points.
Donnewald, who led Mater Dei with 12 points, and Beckmann keyed the Knights scoring run. But sophomore Kelsey Gerdes came off the bench to hit a 3 and senior Olivia Theising added a short jumper.
“We’re going through some growing pains. We’re playing four sophomores and a freshman and they just haven’t learned how to fight through those stretches,’’ Hill said. “We were down 18 at halftime and my assistant coach said said ‘why don’t we try and win the third quarter’ and we came out and outscored Mater Dei 13-6.
“It’s still a learning process. We’re young and we’re still learning. I was pleased at how we came out and played in the second half. We didn’t quit. I was glad to see that.’’
Closing to within 36-25 after three quarters, Althoff continued to close the gap in the first part of the final priod. Getting a pair of short-range jumpers from Divine Lane and a basket from by Rachel Collins, Althoff pulled to within 42-33 with just over three minutes remaining.