The Mater Dei Knights’ torrid first half proved to much for the Althoff Crsuaders to overcome on Wednesday at Mater Dei High School.
Sophomore Myah Beckmann and senior Jenna Toennies combined to ignite the Mater Dei offense with 18 first-half points and the Knights defense held a sluggish Althoff attack in check for much of the night as they went on for a 56-35 nonconference victory.
Looking to get back on track after a 56-47 loss at Class 3A power Highland on Monday, the Knights connected on seven of their first 12 shots while forcing four early Althoff turnovers while scoring 17 of the first 23 points.
With Beckmann, a 5-9 forward, making a 3-point basket as part of her eight point first quarter, the Knights (8-7) jumped out to a 20-10 lead. Althoff (4-14), which saw its two game winning streak snapped, would get no closer then nine points the rest of the night.
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“We knew Althoff is a good team and that their record is deceiving. I thought our defense was very good on Maggie (Reimer) and Kyleigh (Vaught),” Mater Dei coach David Kohnen said. “We were ready to play tonight and played very well early in the game. We shot the basketball well. We shared the basketball well and we had a balanced attack. But we’ve been pretty balanced all year.”
Vaught, who led Althoff with 16 points, gave her team its only lead when she scored in the opening minute. But Mater Dei, which won the consolation title at the Mascoutah Girls Invitational last week, responded with a 7-0 run to grab early control of the game.
Junior Logan Braundmeier scored on an offensive putback, Beckmann connected on a 3-point shot and when junior Kelsey Gerdes added a pair of free throws, the Knights had a 7-2 lead.
Althoff, playing its fourth game in the last five days, would never recover.
“We’ve played a lot of basketball. We played Carbondale on Saturday and the last two nights we had played Marion and Waterloo. We may have been a little tired. But we’re not going to use that as an excuse,’’ Althoff coach Nick Knolhoff said. “Mater Dei is an excellent team and they played very well early.
“We were a little sluggish early in the game. We didn’t shoot the basketball well early. But we are continuing to work hard and we are getting better.”
Beckmann totaled eight of her 12 points in the first quarter.
Toennies added five of her 11 points in the second quarter as the Knights lead grew to 33-16. Gerdes then took over in ths second half, tallying nine of her 14 points.