St. Elizabeth uses strong rebounding to down Calvary Lutheran

In boys basketball

Calvary Lutheran’s Beau Monson drives the ball to the basket past Braydon Holtmeyer of St. Elizabeth during Friday night’s game at Trinity Lutheran.

Calvary Lutheran’s Beau Monson drives the ball to the basket past Braydon Holtmeyer of St. Elizabeth during Friday night’s game at Trinity Lutheran. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

On a night where the shots weren’t often falling, the St. Elizabeth Hornets did the only thing they could do — crash the glass.

The Hornets made just 29 percent from the field Friday night at the Trinity Lutheran gym, but they grabbed 15 offensive boards to give themselves extra opportunities in a 42-34 win over Calvary Lutheran.

Considering the Hornets had just 32 rebounds overall, the 15 caroms on the offensive end is even more impressive.

“We’ve been boarding pretty well,” St. Elizabeth coach Leroy Heckemeyer said. “We did the hard work to get extra chances.”

Jared Bax led the Hornets with 10 rebounds, and fittingly, half of them came on the offensive end.

“Rebounding has been helping us, and the second-chance points are big,” Heckemeyer said.

Calvary coach Mark Buffington said that wasn’t the only hustle area that seemed to go the way of St. Elizabeth.

“They won the battle of the loose balls,” he said. “That’s not to say we weren’t hustling or working hard, but it’s one of the few games this year where we haven’t gotten them. I’d attribute hat to (St. Elizabeth) and their effort.”

The Hornets got seven of those offensive boards in the first quarter. As a result, they held a 12-7 lead despite making just 5-of-17 shots in the opening period.

Loren Schlichting accounted for all of Calvary’s offense in the frame. It was part of a big night for the Lions’ only senior, as he racked up game highs in points (17) and rebounds (12) and added three blocked shots for good measure.

“Loren has done really well all year long, but he’s been huge the last three weeks,” Buffington said. “Over the last eight games, he’s averaging a double-double. ... I hate for Loren to have to end his home career with a loss, but he sure made a good showing for himself.”

The teams played to a virtual standstill in the second quarter, as Calvary outscored St. Elizabeth 10-9 to get to within 21-17.

The score could have been more lopsided if not for a key momentum swing right before intermission.

With St. Elizabeth up 21-12, the Hornets missed a 3-pointer. Calvary’s Bradley MacLaughlin answered with a 3, and after the Lions forced a turnover, Schlichting canned a pair of free throws with :10.5 to cut the lead to four.

The Lions came out of the locker room and cut the lead to 21-20 on a 3 by Beau Monson, but that’s as close as they would get all game.

On one of the game’s biggest series, the Lions had the ball down 23-20. After an unforced Calvary turnover, St. Elizabeth’s Brian Wilde drilled a 3 to start a stretch where the Hornets built the lead back up to 30-23 by the end of the quarter.

Heckemeyer said his team has done a good job recently of playing big at big moments.

“I’m proud of our guys for doing that,” he said. “We’ve been doing that lately and I think we’re heading into district play with the right kind of attitude.”

The Lions ended the quarter by going 1-of-8 from the field with four turnovers after being within one possession of tying it.

But Calvary still had a chance, as they Lions were down just five with four minutes left.

However, they went just 1-of-5 down the stretch with a pair of turnovers, and the Hornets held on.

“I’m not making excuses, because it’s the end of the season and our kids are experienced, but St. Elizabeth has more senior leadership than we do,” Buffington said. “I would attribute a lot of (the late-game execution) to that.”

The Hornets started just 1-of-7 from the free-throw line while trying to salt it away in the fourth, and were just 5-of-13 from the stripe in the quarter.

“If we could just hit some free throws, it would make me a little more comfortable,” Heckemeyer said. “But the guys know it. A few of them asked, ‘Coach, can we come in and shoot some free throws tomorrow?’”

Wilde was the only Hornet to reach double figures, as he dropped in 13.

Both St. Elizabeth (9-15) and Calvary (5-17) return to action next week in district play. The Hornets are the fourth seed in the Class 1 District 6 Tournament, opening against No. 5 Hermitage at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The Lions, meanwhile, are the seventh seed in Class 1 District 9. They will play No. 2 Community R-VI at 7:30 p.m.

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