This year marks Coach Craig Geyen’s seventh year as part of the Monticello and Buffalo girls basketball rivalry. He’s been on the winning side of it and the losing side of it. In three years while Geyen was at Buffalo, the Bison never lost to Monticello. In his first three years at Monticello, the streak was extended. Monticello couldn’t beat Buffalo.
But Tuesday night Geyen and his team earned its fourteenth win of the season and perhaps it’s most impressive one yet, going into Buffalo and winning 57-49.
“It was a big win,” said Geyen. “It was a big confidence boost for our kids.”
Confidence has continued to build for the girls this year, as they’ve racked up win after win, now upping their record to 14-2. Tuesday night that confidence built quickly in the early going as Monticello jumped out to an 11-0 lead on Buffalo’s home court.
The Bison withstood the early storm from the visitors, and the margin stayed in place throughout the half. The Magic took a 31-22 lead into intermission.
In the second half the Magic started fast, using a ten point spurt from Grace Sawatzke to help build an 18 point lead despite playing without Alyssa Lentner, who left at halftime, Kallie Gau and Amanda Howe – three of their top eight players –due to injury.
But the three time defending conference champions weren’t going to go out without a fight. The Bison rallied, cutting the lead all the way down to four points in the final minutes. Yet as much as they bent the Magic, they couldn’t break them. Free throws, and a big layup by Ashlyn Cole kept the Bison at bay down the stretch as Monticello earned a monumental conference win in their first try of the season.
More impressively than the win was the Magic attitude following the game. The group, full of high expectations, wasn’t satisfied with a big win, rather frustrated with the way they played down the stretch.
“We can still play a better game than this,” said Geyen. “They want more, they’re striving for more.”
For the game, Sawatzke led the Magic with 18 points, while Gabby Laimer poured in 13 points of her own. The Magic got key contributions from numerous players, as someone new continues to step up everytime a player goes down. Melissa Schmitt got a bucket for the Magic, while Mackenzie Cruzen and Kendra Stoick each provided valuable minutes off the bench as well.
Monticello’s thirteenth win of the season came Thursday when they hammered Becker at home, 68-30.
The Magic jumped out to a 4-17 halftime lead and cruised from there. Sawatzke scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 7 assists in the win. Laimer again helped share the scoring load, adding 21 points in the victory.
The Magic continue conference play tonight, as they host Big Lake at 7:15.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]