Irish boys unable to close out games, lose to BBE and Pierz

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by Hannah Haegele The road has been rough so far for the Irish in their conference play. Easy wins would be hard to come by this week as the Irish faced two very good conference opponents, including top-ranked Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa who has more than 40 straight conference wins, and the third-place Pierz Pioneers. Though the Irish eyed the upsets, the favorites won both contests in two totally different games. On Feb. 5, the Irish hosted BBE in a highly-anticipated game for many fans, as they got to watch Maple Lake take on one of the best teams in the state of Minnesota. Much of BBE’s success can be accredited to their stifling team defense and their high scorer, Brian Goodwin, who averages around 17 points per game. The two main goals for the Irish to win were: 1. Stop Goodwin and 2. Find a way to take care of the ball and execute on offense. In the first half, the Irish did a nice job on both of their goals. On offense, the Irish managed to hit five key three-pointers to give the players confidence. They also took care of the ball nicely and didn’t allow the tough BBE defense to rattle them. Defense was even more impressive for the Irish, as they held Goodwin to only five points in the first half. The Irish played well together as a team on defense and it resulted in allowing BBE only 22 points in the first half. The Irish had an impressive first half and led 24-22 at the break. The second half started optimistically again, as the Irish battled shot-for-shot with BBE. With about seven minutes left in the game, the Irish were still hanging in there and were down only four points, 34-38, but as experienced teams do, BBE found a way to get into their groove. From that point on, the Jaguars took the game over and absolutely dominated all aspects of the contest. Offensively, the Irish were less than stellar, as they shot just 3-23 in the second half plus five free throws for a total of 12 points in the second half. The aggressive BBE defense forced multiple turnovers. Defensively, the Irish couldn’t shut down Goodwin as they did in the first half and he rolled to 18 points in the game. Though they led early, the Irish ended up losing 36-57. “We played 29 minutes of very good basketball. Unfortunately, the game is 36 minutes. We just couldn’t get shots to fall in the second half,” coach Tim Staloch said. Pts Rbs Stls Asts Z. Johnson 2 7 - 4 A. Schonnesen - - 1 - T. Goelz 10 2 - 2 T. Borell 2 3 - 2 D. Stokman 12 4 - - E. Hertwig 2 - 1 - D. Mavencamp 3 6 1 2 B. Hudek 4 4 - - J. Elsenpeter - 1 - - L. Caughey 1 3 - - On Feb. 8, the Irish took the long road trip to Pierz to face off against the Pioneers. Pierz is sitting comfortably in third place in the Central Minnesota Conference standings. The Irish just barely lost a close matchup to the Pioneers earlier this season by four points, and they hoped this time they could be on the winning end. Once again, four was an unlucky number for the Irish, as it marked the margin of loss. Offensively in the first half for the Irish, it was a little bit of a struggle to score. The Irish had an abundance of opportunities for easy baskets but shot only 30 percent. 
More information and stats appears in this week's Messenger.

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