The Mater Dei Knights found their shooting form — and touch — just in time Monday at Central High School.
Mater Dei senior guard Kelsey Gerdes and junior forward Myah Beckmann scored four points each to ignite an 11-2 scoring run to start the second half and the Knights never looked back in a 47-35 win over rival Central in a non-conference girls basketball game.
Entering the game with a deceiving 1-4 record, Central thrilled a large home crowd with its finest half of basketball of the year. Playing a zone defense, controlling the backboards and getting eight points from sophomore Allison Fehrmann, Central jumped out to a 10-7 lead after one quarter and extended that cushion to 24-15 at halftime.
But Beckmann, who sat out the final four minutes of the first half after picking up her third foul, and Gerdes, went to work in the opening three minutes of the third period.
Two free throws by Gerdes with 4:15 left in the period cut the Cougars lead to 26-25 and when freshman Shannon Lampe made a 3-pointer seconds later Mater Dei (4-1) had its first lead of the game at 28-26.
“Their (Central’s) zone defense gave some trouble in the first half, but we had good shots that we just didn’t make,” Knights coach David Kohnen said. “Alot of that I think was that we were dragging our feet a little bit in the first half. When you do that you don’t get set and it affects the way you shot the basketball.
“I told the girls at halftime that if we could cut the (Central) lead to three or four points going into the fourth quarter, then we had a chance. We came out and played much better in the second half.”
Central, still playing with standout Faye Meissner (hamstring injury) getting limited playing tinme, played well despite its youth and inexperience in the first two quarters.
Meissner scored five points in the first quarter, while Fehrmann, junior Abbie Horstmann and Olivia Wesselmann combined for 12 of the Cougars 14 second quarter points as Central took a 24-15 lead into halftime.
But it didn’t last.
“I thought we played well in the first half. It showed us what it can be like when we execute,” Central coach Nathan Rueter said. “We’ve played a tough early season schedule. But I thought in the first half tonight. we came out and did the things we have been working on.
“But when they (Mater Dei) made its run, I think you could see us tighten up a little bit.”
Gerdes scored six of her 18 points in the third quarter while Beckmann and Ciara Perkes added four points.
Beckmann and Kierra Winkeler scored four points each in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter as the Knights broke the game open, taking a 38-30 lead.
Gerdes led all scorers with 18 points, while Beckmann added 11 for Mater Dei,