Cougars hold off Cathedral

NEW ULM – A second-half comeback had New Ulm Cathedral poised to overcome a 31-18 halftime deficit to upset Cedar Mountain/Comfrey.

The comeback, however, went for naught as the Cougars (8-4, 5-4 Tomahawk) held off the Greyhounds 50-47 in Tomahawk Conference girl’s basketball action on Friday night. CM/C coach Mike Kelly said his team’s 7-of-10 free-throw shooting within the final five minutes of the game were critical in securing the victory.

“We had been kind of struggling there – it seems like about every third game we can’t make a free throw,” Kelly said. “But tonight we were able to make some clutch free throws and a couple of good defensive plays.”

The Greyhounds (6-4, 3-4) outscored the Cougars 29-19 in the second half in vying to avenge a 14-point season-opening loss.

“A lot of heart, a lot of hustle,” said Cathedral coach Jeremy Drexler of his team’s second-half performance. “First half defensively, we were not that good. We gave them open 3 after open 3 – to their credit they knocked them down.”

In the first half, the Cougars shot 7-of-12 from 3-point range with Courtney Nelsen and Natalie Hoffbeck netting six of those seven 3s. Coming off the bench, Hoffbeck led all scorers with 11 points in the first half on 4-of-7 shooting and 3-of-5 from 3-point land.

“They both shoot over 33, 34 percent and that is key for us because we’re not very big inside,” Kelly said. “So that will pull a defense so we are able to get the ball inside a little better to give our smaller players some more room.”

Hoffbeck’s second 3-pointer gave the Cougars a 19-7 lead midway through the first half. A layup by Lindsay Simon, 2-of-3 made free throws and a 3-pointer by Karlee Pfaff pulled Cathedral to within five points, but a bank shot by Paige Richert forced Drexler to call a timeout.

Out of the timeout, CM/C scored 10 of the final 14 points tallied to head into the locker room leading 31-18.

“Our defense just wasn’t what it normally is,” said senior Kelli Eckstein, who had eight points for the Greyhounds. “Their offense wasn’t anything unusual.”

Cathedral senior Kristin Mohr scored all nine of her points within the final seven minutes of the game. After missing her first 10 shots, Mohr shot 3-for-3 and made three of her four free throws to keep Cathedral alive in the thick of the game.

“She’s a senior and a captain, she plays with a ton of confidence,” Drexler said of Mohr. “She just didn’t get her shots to fall in the first half. She’s so active especially for a wing – she gets a lot of rebounds and she works her butt off. Her hustle and work ethic are what gets her a lot of her points.”

Nelsen led the Cougars with 15 points, while Simon led the Greyhounds with 12 and Pfaff added 10.

CM/C will host Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Cathedral will host Sleepy Eye in a makeup game from Jan. 7 at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

CM/C 31 19 – 50

NUC 18 29 – 47

Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (50)

Kelly 3-7 0-0 6, Nelsen 4-15 4-6 15, Boyle 0-4 0-0 0, Lund 3-8 0-0 6, Ochs 1-6 6-8 9, Hoffbeck 4-10 0-1 11, Richert 1-2 1-2 3.

New Ulm Cathedral (47)

Eckstein 3-4 1-1 8, K Mohr 3-10 3-4 9, Pfaff 3-12 3-5 10, Simon 4-4 4-6 12, Schwarz 2-8 0-3 4, Krzmarzick 1-5 0-0 2, Gangelhoff 0-2 0-0 0, Laraway 1-2 0-0 2, Hillesheim 0-1 0-0 0.

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