The Saints have been close so many times this winter, but have came up short all the time in close games until Tuesday night.
Tuesday night was different. Sparked by Zach Brandts getting his 1,000 point as a Saint and totalling 33 points for the game, SJA beat Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial 82-76 before a large and lively hometown crowd.
No doubt a large number of the fans were there to witness a bit of Saints basketball history. Topping 1,000 career points puts Zach Brandts in an elite group of Saints basketball players. Zach is the sixth Saint to top 1,000 career points.
It started out slow. Zach got the first point for the Saints making one of two free throws. He then picked up a two pointer and needed another two pointer to get to 1,000.
He or the rest of the team wasn’t forcing it. The Saints had 19 points and Zach just three well into the first half.
Trailing 23-19 the Saints missed a shot. Needing two points Zach tried to tip it in. He missed. Zach was in the paint when the ball came back to him, he fired it up, and again he missed. The ball hit the floor and Zach hit the floor. He got the rebound on his hands and knees. Somehow he got back up to his feet and surrounded by LCWM players he shot and SCORED!
The crowd erupted. Play was halted. Fans in the stands behind the Saints players held up the Congratulations Zach 1,000 Point banner. His teammates mobbed Zach. Then Zach ran over to the stands and got hugs from his family. These kind of milestones are always special moments.
Head Coach Steve Walker said, “It’s fitting that it came on a couple of offensive rebounds because when he misses a shot he goes after it hard. So it was very appropriate. Zach is an aggressive offensive rebounder and I would have guessed that his 1000th pt would come on an offensive rebound.”
But, there was a basketball game to win and the Saints got back to work. SJA and LCWM were tied at the half 36 all.
The Saints have been close to many teams at the half this season, but then fall behind early in the second half and can’t pull off a victory.
This time it was different. It was the Saints who burst out into a lead and held it. LCWM narrowed the gap several times but the Saints didn’t fold.
The Saints opened up with an 8-3 run and less than two minutes into the half, SJA had 44-39 lead.
Page 2 of 3 - Zach got his scoring in high gear in the second half ending with 33. Ryan Menssen added 20.
LCWM was able to pull into a tie at 68 and then again at 70, but it was going to be the Saints night.
When the game was tight Sam Carlson hit a big three pointer. Head Coach Walker said, “Sam hit a huge 3 down the stretch and everyone who played contributed in a positive way.”
Down the stretch the Saints got the rebounds, made the shots, and free throws. Though SJA put Lake Crystal on the line, but the visitors missed 4-6.
With 1,028 Zach Brandts is in sixth place on the all time scoring list. Up next is Tom Crosgrove at 1,039. Tyler Kaus is the Saints all time leading scorer with 1,646 points.
On the road again
The boys had a couple of tough games on the road against a couple of good teams.
Last Thursday, the Saints went down to Fairmont to take on the Cardinals. The Saints lost 70-40, but the game was close until about the last ten minutes.
The Saints got off to a slow start according to Head Coach Steve Walker, but the team battled back to trail 31-24 at the half.
Fairmont opened up the scoring in the second half with a 9-0 run, but the Saints came back with a 9-1 run. SJA trailed 41-33 with a little over 10 minutes left. Then the Saints turned the ball over the next three trips down the floor and Fairmont blew the game open.
Fairmont went on a 29-7 run to close out the scoring.
The Saints turned the ball over 25 times against Fairmont. Coach Walker said, “No one can go on the road against a ranked team and turn it over 20+ times and expect to win.”
The boys also shot poorly. They made only 12 of 44 shots for 27 percent from the field.
Zach Brandts was the only Saint in double figures with 12 points. Zach just broke the school record for consecutive games scoring in double figures, so scoring just 12 was cutting it close as far as keeping that record going.
But the dozen against Fairmont made it 42 games in a row scoring in double figures for Zach.
Defenses have been keying on Brandts in an effort to shut off his offensive output, but on Saturday Zach exploded for 29 against JCC. That raised his consecutive record to 43. That scoring burst also gave the junior 995 points for his career.
Page 3 of 3 - Brandts was 11 of 12 from the free throw line. For the second game in a row, he was the only SJA player in double figures. The team was just 3 of 30 from behind the arc and shot 23 percent from the floor.
Walker Froehling had 12 rebounds and Brandts had 11.
Coach Walker said, “I thought we moved the ball very well and played pretty well.
“We shot poorly which hurt us. We had lots of good looks. We worked very hard on the boards and we had 18 offensive rebounds against a good rebounding team.”
The Saints JV beat Fairmont last Friday evening 47-46. The Saints were led in scoring by Will Runge with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Tyler Witcraft had 12 points and 5 rebounds, Devon Schmitz 10 points and 5 rebounds, John Olsen 7 points, Logan Sykes 2 points, Justin Stevens 2 points and Johnathon Peterson 1 point. The JV team is 2-2 on the year with games remaining at JCC and at home vs. Mt. Lake Area.