The Lady Saints welcomed in #13 New Ulm to the event center on Thursday night, and hung with the Eagles until the final minutes, thanks to some hot shooting by Chloe Mickelson.
Mickelson got started early, canning a catch and shoot three from the corner, a result that would replicate itself seven more times throughout the contest.
The Saints would lead 5-2 early on a pair of Kaydi Anderson free throws. New Ulm would answer with five quick points to take a 7-5 lead.
Mickelson would come right back with another three to give the Saints the lead right back. A 12-5 run forced the Saints to call a timeout with 8:30 left in the half.
Out of the timeout, Mickelson would nail her third three-pointer of the half to trim the gap to six.
“I knew it was Chloe’s night when she hit the first three,” said head coach Steve Witcraft. “The girls knew Chloe was hot.”
New Ulm would continue to inch away, taking a 14-point lead late in the first half on back-to-back buckets by senior Iyanna Wieland.
Mickelson would close the half with another three, and the Saints were down just 11 heading into the break.
Earlier in the season, the Saints scored just 15 points against the Eagles. In the first half on Thursday night, they scored 18 in the first half.
“Last time we played them we couldn’t get the ball past the half-court trap,” said Witcraft. “So what we did was put Jaylen [Haler] as our in-bounder, then had her fill the middle.”
Haler, along with Anderson, also came up large on the glass limiting second-chance opportunities for the Eagles.
Early in the second half, Mickelson, as well as Anderson led the charge and cut the lead back down to six.
“I was surprised they kept leaving me open in the corners,” said Mickelson. “If it was there I was going to shoot it.”
Batt would score seven quick points for New Ulm, pushing the lead to 13. But once again, Mickelson had the answer, hitting back-to-back threes to keep St. James within striking distance.
“Coach said just make the extra pass and my teammates told me if I was open I was getting the ball,” said Mickelson “I wasn’t thinking, I was just shooting.”
The teams would trade baskets until the final minutes, as New Ulm would force multiple turnovers and blow the game open with an 18-8 run in the last two minutes to cap off a 66-46 victory.
“That was the best we’ve played all year,” said Witcraft. “We moved and passed the ball really well.”
All 24 of Mickelson’s points came via the three. Kaydi Anderson added 14 points. Kelsey Grunewald scored six off the bench.
New Ulm was carried by Batt, the all-time school record holder in points, who lit it up for 30 points. Wieland scored 12 in support. Ellie Bute drilled a trio of three-pointers. Eighth-grader Bryn Nesvold scored eight.
New Ulm improves to 16-3 on the year, and have now won five straight games. The Saints fall to 4-13 and have lost their last five contests and nine of ten.
St. James is back in play on Tuesday night against Fairmont.