PREP GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Chargers hold off CHS

NEW ULM – Just like some television shows, a couple of area girls basketball teams are dealing with cliffhangers at the end of the season.

Can the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers shake off some late season doldrums and dominate like a first seed should?

Can the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds find some offensive firepower to go along with a stultifying defense?

After Thursday night’s 60-40 MVL win over Cathedral, it looks like the Chargers are closer to a resolution than the Greyhounds, but with the playoffs a week and a half away, there’s always time for some twists at the end.

As it was, the two teams slugged it out in the early parts of the first half, with MVL going on an eight-point run midway through it to take an 18-8 lead. The Chargers extended that lead to 24-9 before the Greyhounds stopped the bus and fought back by scoring 11 of the next 12 points so the MVL margin was shaved to 26-21 at halftime.

A 3-pointer from Paige Pautzke to start the second half energized the Greyhounds, and after a free throw from Kristin Mohr, the Chargers were up by a thread, 26-25.

Consecutive layups from Martha Johnston opened the MVL lead to five before Cathedral responded for what would be the final time to make it 32-31. The Chargers were good for the next 13 points, so with three quarters of the game finished, they held a 44-31 lead.

Meanwhile, the Greyhounds couldn’t buy a shot from anywhere, shooting just 5-for-32 from the field and 5-for-16 from the free throw line in the second half. Up 52-39 with 3:11 left in the game, MVL slowed down the game, with Johnston putting the final touch on the win with a layup after a free throw miss that made it 55-39 with two minutes left.

“Five-for-32 doesn’t win games,” Greyhounds coach Mary Dengerud said. “We were right there for a while in the second half.”

“I thought we played a nice game,” Chargers coach Dave Biedenbender said. “We’re working our way in the right direction. Cathedral is a very good team and they play good defense. I thought we got good post play and played pretty good defense. I’ll take a 20-point win any day.”

MVL’s Johnston and Anna Munsen led all scorers with 13 points apiece, with Pautzke pacing Cathedral with 11 points.

MVL hosts Mankato Loyola at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night, while Cathedral travels to play Nicollet, also at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. They are the last regular season games for both teams.

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