Chargers are playing well to start the year

At 5-1 going into the Bethany Christmas Basketball Tournament, Minnesota Valley Lutheran head coach Craig Morgan said his team is where he hoped it would be.

“The guys have been playing well together,” he said. “They have been improving and working hard in practice and it is paying off.”

The Chargers’ only loss came to St. Croix Lutheran at the Martin Luther College Tournament.

Despite being 5-1, Morgan has concerns about his team’s rebounding.

“Offensively we are getting shots that we like so our shooting percentage is up and we are playing better defense so that has also helped,” he said.

Coming into the season, the Chargers had known scoring in guards Jake Kettner and Matt Munson but were a little worried about a supporting cast for them.

But he found that in two underclassmen.

“Mason Cox has stepped up for us,” Morgan said. “I was not sure if we were going to play him on the JV or varsity level but the first couple of practices he showed that he belonged on the varsity with the intensity, defense and rebounding.

“And we brought up sophomore Jace Marotz and he has showed a spark for us,” Morgan said. “He is quick and athletic. He can steal the ball shoot and drive so it has been a lot of fun with those two newcomers.”

CATHEDRAL AT 5-3: New Ulm Cathedral boys’ basketball coach Alan Woitas said that his team has had some tough opponents early in their schedule. The Greyhounds lost to unbeaten Springfield 94-80 and a 5-2 BOLD team 88-60.

One of the surprise losses for Cathedral was a 73-66 loss to Lester Prairie Holy Trinity.

“We got caught on the back end of a back-to-back,” Woitas said. “We only made 17 of 34 free throws and when you do not cash in on those and miss layups, that is how you lose games.”

One of the strengths of the Greyhounds that a lot of other teams do not have is balanced scoring.

“Right now we have almost five players averaging double-digits in points,” Woitas said. “Jacob Manderfeld is at around 9 points a game and that makes us difficult to guard. We have had different players lead us in scoring and we can play with different mismatches that other teams struggle with.”

The Greyhounds play in the Nicollet Tournament and will play Nicollet and then Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.

BELTZ LEADS STATE IN SCORING: With four goals Thursday night, New Ulm Eagles girls’ hockey player Ali Beltz now has 99 career goals and should get her 100th career goal in the Sartell/Sauk Rapids Tournament December 28 and 29. Beltz also leads the state with 33 goals and 59 points and is second in assists in the state with 23.

EAGLES PLAYING WELL: The New Ulm Eagles boys’ basketball team is 5-3 following their nine point overtime loss to Fairmont Friday night.

But New Ulm Eagles coach Steve Foley feels that his team realistically could be much better than two games over .500.

“I think that we are close to being 8-0,” he said. “We have been right there every game. The Belle Plaine game [a 70-54 loss] the score looks bad but it was a 5-point game with three minutes to go, I thought that last night was a good measuring stick to see how far we have come. We lost to St. Peter in a close [10-point loss] game and Fairmont (6-1) beat St.Peter pretty handily. We have gotten so much better from the start of the year.”

Last year, the Eagles won only eight games all season and are close to that mark already. Foley said that four starters on this year’s team — Connor Foley, Reece Melby, Noah Hauge and Braden Zimmerman along with Jayden Domeier — played meaningful minutes last year.

Add in the play of Matt Janke, who took a year off from basketball last year and has had tossed in some double-digit scoring nights and the Eagles have gotten better.

While teams focus their concern on Connor Foley, the scoring of Janke, Melby and Zimmerman has seen the Eagles put four to five players in double figures in a game.

The Eagles play in the Norwood-Young America Christmas Tournament and face Mound-Westonka and either NYA or Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop. If they play NYA it would have the Eagles going against their head coach from last season, Adam Tyhurst.

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