Chargers hold on to beat CHS

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello New Ulm Cathedral’s Jon Zinniel blocks a shot from Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Jace Marotz (22) during the first half Monday at CHS.

NEW ULM — Fireworks came early and often in Monday night’s meeting between No.10-ranked New Ulm Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran at Cathedral High School, with the Chargers closing things out late for a 76-73 victory in Tomahawk Conference boys’ basketball.

With the win, MVL was able to get a little payback for last season, where the Greyhounds went 3-0 against the Chargers. The last win Cathedral had over MVL came in the Section 2A playoffs at Cathedral on March 6, 2018.

With a full house watching, Alex Hillesheim sank a 3-pointer to give Cathedral a late 71-69 lead, but Dunwa Omot answered that 3 with a 3 of his own for a 72-71 MVL lead. Jace Marotz then extended the MVL lead on a drive inside with less than a minute to play before James Gillis answered on the other end with a layup with 46 seconds to bring Cathedral back within 1, 74-73.

After a late MVL turnover, Cathedral had time to adjust and look for a final shot and the win. After Jon Zinniel’s jumper from 15 feet away came up short, MVL’s Jake Kettner was able to take the ball past half court before drawing a foul with .9 left on the clock. Kettner sank both free throws and Cathedral was unable to get another shot off.

Kettner led the Chargers with 31 points and 11 rebounds, while Omot added 20 points, four rebounds and four steals. Also for MVL, Marotz had 12 points and Mason Cox added 8 points.

“When Jake got into foul trouble, that kind of hurt us, but then the other guys stepped up,” MVL head coach Craig Morgan said. “Then Dunwa stepped up, did a great job for us, hit some keys shots, made some nice moves. Defensively, we stepped it up after Jake came back in at the end, but it was a good overall team effort.”

Cathedral was led by Hillesheim, who had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Gillis had 19 points and four rebounds. Also for the Greyhounds, Ethan Kirchberg had 17 points and five assists, while Kyle Goblirsch added 8 points and six boards off the bench.

Zinniel had six blocks for the Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds were the first team to jump out to a big lead in the first half after a 19-6 run put them ahead 22-11 to force an MVL timeout with 10:54 left in the first half. The run was capped off with a 3 each by Hillesheim and Gillis.

MVL came out of the timeout with an and-one by Kyreis Harrison and a corner 3 by Marotz. MVL later went on a 10-0 run to take a 36-30 lead near the end of the first half.

During that 10-0 run, Kettner drilled a 3 to put MVL ahead by 1 and followed that up with a two-handed slam dunk after a takeaway. MVL led 36-33 at halftime.

Cathedral opened the second half with a 14-2 run to lead 47-40. Hillesheim, Gillis and Kirchberg all knocked down a 3 during the run.

Kettner and Omot then began to take over for MVL in the second half, with Omot giving MVL the lead back, 51-49, after a 3 and Kettner hitting a fallaway 3 for a 54-51 lead moments later. Cathedral retook the lead once more after that and led by as much as 6, but the Chargers pulled away again late and held on for the win.

Cathedral shot a better percentage from the floor than MVL, 55 percent to 45 percent, but MVL got off 13 more shots and hit six more free throws.

“I thought both teams played really well,” Cathedral head coach Alan Woitas said. “Obviously we had a few things that got away from us, we turned the ball over a few too many times (18 turnovers) that led to some runouts and easy points and we didn’t get many of those ourselves. So we’ve got to clean that up, but those are correctable things.”

MVL (11-1, 5-0) hosts Springfield on Friday, while Cathedral (9-2, 4-2) travels to Hector for a meeting with Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Friday.