In the end, though, the Panthers were able to win this one by 21 points, 74-53.
Alta-Aurelia was led in scoring by junior Jalen Henningsen, who totaled 18 points, including 5 of 8 three-point attempts. Ryan Friedrich added a dozen points for the Warriors and he also led the team on the boards, grabbing six rebounds. Jaden Holton had eight points and A.J. Lange seven for A-A.
St Mary's was led by Luke Lenhart's 22 points and Connor Richardson (18) and Kennedy Drey (11) also reached double figures for the Panthers, who improved their season mark to 18-1. They are undefeated in Northwest Conference play.
Coach Lietz said, "St. Mary's is an outstanding team, and we wish them the best in the postseason. They once again out- rebounded us, and that puts us at a disadvantage. We had one bad stretch in the 2nd quarter and they were quick to take advantage. Connor Richardson made a big shot to end the 3rd quarter when we had a little momentum, and they were strong with the ball in the 4th quarter. Our focus now needs to shift to our final three games and then the tournament."
The Warriors hosted Laurens-Marathon Friday in their final NW Conference game of the season, then host Woodbury Central on Tuesday before wrapping up the regular season at home against River Valley on Friday.