Knights beat Lions
Published 10:06 pm Monday, January 26, 2015
ALDEN — The only player on the Alden-Conger girls’ basketball team who still goes out for recess during the school day is showing leadership skills at the varsity level.
Erika Bute posted team-highs with 22 points and 15 rebounds on Monday to lead the Knights past Schaeffer Academy 59-42 at Alden.
“She just goes in there and basically gets every rebound for us, which you wouldn’t expect out of a 5-6 eighth grader, but she is,” said Alden-Conger coach Jenny Hovendick. “She’s just driven. She finds a way.”
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Bute said she takes pride in working the glass.
“Being one of the smallest ones out there, I think it’s my job to go for steals, but I also really like to get the boards,” she said. “Sometimes I look more into getting rebounds than what I get for points.”
Five Alden-Conger players grabbed four or more rebounds: in addition to Bute, Kelsey Newman, Cassie Gilster and Brittany Jensen had five. Toni Chicos had four.
“We’ve all got to box out because we’re not blessed with any kind of height,” Hovendick said.
At halftime, Bute had 16 of Alden-Conger’s 34 points. Schaeffer Academy had 14.
Bute scored off the dribble in the half-court set. She scored in transition. She dove for loose balls and even forced an over-the-back call by getting position for a rebound. Through 15 games this season, Bute leads the team with an average of 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
“She’s far exceeded my expectations this year, being a team leader and being the one who makes things happen,” Hovendick said.
The Knights’ main post presence, senior Liesel Theusch, who is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game and rebounding at 7.8 boards per game, sat on the bench next to her crutches, so the Hovendick adjusted the gameplan, she said.
“We had to change a little bit of what we were going to do offensively to get the ball in the paint,” she said. “We were setting more ball screens and looking for our guards to drive to the basket.”
The strategy worked.
“The lane was really open, so my job was to take it to the hole,” Bute said.
Three players for Alden-Conger scored in double figures: in addition to Bute, Gilster scored 11, and Chicos added 10.
“Tonight we got Toni Chicos driving to the basket a little bit, and she hasn’t done a lot of that this year,” Hovendick said. “To see her driving with some confidence was a good thing.”
Schaeffer Academy’s only lead of the game was 2-1. After a transition layup by Bute and a 3-pointer by Gilster — her 31st of the year — the Knights led 6-2 and didn’t look back.
Alden-Conger took its first double-digit lead, 15-5, with 10:20 left in the first half on a drive by Chicos.
The first basket of the second half — a layup by Bute — pushed the Knights’ lead past 20, 36-15.
The victory ended Alden-Conger’s four-game losing streak and pushed the Lions’ losing streak to six games.
Next, Alden-Conger (5-10, 3-5 Valley Conference) will host No. 8 Class A Mankato Loyola (15-2, 8-1 Valley Conference) at 7:30 p.m. today. After that, the Knights will play the only team that is undefeated in the conference, Martin County West (14-2, 9-0 Valley Conference), at 7:30 p.m. Friday.