NEW ULM - Last season, the Minnesota Valley Lutheran girls basketball team worked hard and competed all season but was not quite able to take the conference or finish out at state.
This year, with experience coming from their seniors and new talent being brought up from B squad, the Chargers' varsity girls are looking to put all the pieces together for a successful season.
With 14 wins and 11 losses, the girls' overall record for last season doesn't appear to be that impressive at first, however, their record for the Tomahawk Conference stood strong at 12-4.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Bailey Lange is one of five seniors returning this season for Minnesota Valley Lutheran. The Chargers open the season Dec. 2 when they host Nicollet
Despite the number of wins, MVL had to settle for third in the conference and were eliminated by Yellow Medicine East in the Section 3AA North Sub-Section semifinal game.
"We would like to win the Tomahawk Conference this year," coach Dave Biedenbender said. "We have not won it the last two years, but we think this could be our year. We'll have many tough teams to contend with in the Tomahawk Conference again this year. Each night in the Tomahawk will be a good challenge. There are many good teams to deal with."
Much of Biedenbender's plan for making a run on the conference title rests with his seniors.
Players returning for their senior year include, Heather Danell, Tarah Schoof, Bailey Lange, Ashley Dinse, and Miranda Maasz.
Last season, Danell led the team in scoring, rebounds, and blocks per game; a repeat performance this year will help insure a winning record.
Lange matched Danell for rebounds per game and was close behind her on the scoreboard, averaging nine points a game. Biedenbender describes her as "very versatile," as she sees time at on the outside and in the post.
Schoof, who averaged six points a game, will be directing play as the starting point guard.
Dinse and Maasz will also be key to the Chargers effort. Biedenbender notes that Dinse, who had her share of rebounds last season, is "very strong [playing] inside," while Maasz is one who is "aggressive and plays hard."
"We're a very experienced team," said Biedenbender, "with many returning players who played meaningful minutes last season. We are a team that can get out on the fastbreak."
Though the veterans make up the bulk of the team, seven players from the senior, junior, and sophomore classes are being brought up from B-squad to help round out the team and give MVL some depth to its play.
Under the leadership of their seniors, the new players will be looking to learn and contribute towards every win.
With a grasp on the challenges that lay before them in the Tomahawk Conference, the Chargers will be looking to build team skill and momentum early on, hopefully swinging it towards a push into the state tournament.
"We also would like to make a strong run at the state tournament," Biedenbender said. "If we're playing well at the end of the season, we should be capable of doing that."
The Chargers finished strong last season, but with the help of both talent and experience, the Chargers will be setting their goals high and work to push the team further than before.
MVL has its first game Thursday, December 2, when it hosts Nicollet.