NEW ULM - With the score tied at 65 and less than two minutes to go, Minnesota Valley Lutheran guard Brandon Smith noticed something in the Redwood Valley defense and instantly went into attack mode.
Smith had the ball at the top of the key and took his man to the basket, converting on a left-handed lay-up to give his Chargers a 67-65 lead.
MVL never looked back, and hit key free throws late as it defeated the Cardinals 77-71 in nonconference boys basketball action.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Galen Holzhueter scores two of his 34 points as Redwood Valley’s JT Radel looks on during the Chargers’ win Thursday at MVL.
For more photos of this event, go to http://cu.nujournal.com
"We were just looking for a good shot, and I noticed my guy was looking around and he wasn't looking at me, so I just took him with a left hand and tried to put it up strong," Smith said.
The Chargers hung on late in the game with free throws. Junior Galen Holzhueter was 8-for-8 from the line in the last minute of the game and Bryce Krohn was 2-for-2 down the stretch.
Holzhueter finished the game with 34 points and 10 rebounds. Smith scored 15 points and Josh Danell had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
"He's clutch," Smith said of Holzhueter. "I don't think I ever remember him missing free throws when the game's on the line."
Sophomore J.T. Radel led the Cardinals with 24 points.
Smith had the toughest assignment of the night, having to guard Mike Felt, who led the state in scoring a year ago. Smith and his teammates held Felt to a respectable 20 points.
"He's probably the best player I've ever had to guard," Smith said. "He's got a couple inches on me and he shoots so quick and he's got a high release. He's just constantly moving. It takes a lot of help from teammates, helping me get through screens. We were doubling him a lot of the night too."
Felt said that his team made some mistakes late in the game and that may have cost the Cardinals, who saw their five-game winning streak end and their record drop to 16-4.
"We needed other players to step up and to value our possession more," Felt said. "A couple times, we could've got a better shot."
The teams battled back and forth in the first half, with Danell and Holzhueter leading the Chargers with eight points each and Radel leading the Cardinals with 10 points in the first 18 minutes. MVL led 31-30 at the break.
In the second half, Redwood Valley's Trevor Goblirsch gave his team a 40-37 lead and Felt put the Cardinals up 43-40 later with a 3.
Later, the Cardinals had their biggest lead when Radel scored at the 9:40 mark to put Redwood Valley up 54-49.
But the Chargers responded and Holzhueter took over, scoring 12 of 14 points in one stretch to give the Chargers a 65-62 lead.
But Radel's 3 tied the game at 1:52 before Smith's go-ahead basket.
The Cardinals look to get back on track with a game at Jackson County Central tonight.
The Chargers (23-1, 17-1 in Tomahawk Conference) are at Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Tuesday.
Redwood Valley (71): Radel 24, Panitzke 4, Felt 20, Goblirsch 4, Kohler 7, Knudson 10, Juell 2.
MVL (77): Evers 4, Ziesemer 2, Danell 14, Holzhueter 34, Smith 15, Krohn 4, Hoffman 4.