Chargers bolt past Crusaders

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Jake Kettner takes a shot over a pair of Mayer Lutheran defenders during Section 2A playoff action Thursday at St. Peter High School.

ST. PETER ­­– The Minnesota Valley Lutheran boys’ basketball team squared off against Mayer Lutheran in a Section 2A, North Subsection semifinal boys’ basketball game Thursday night in St. Peter.

And it wasn’t exactly a close contest.

The No. 2-seeded Chargers (24-3) were able to run away with a 77-38 victory over the No. 3-seeded Crusaders (18-10), never really allowing Mayer Lutheran in the ball game at any point.

MVL went on an early 10-0 run in the first minutes of the opening half as the Chargers maintained the 10-plus point advantage for most of the first.

The Chargers’ defense was stout during the run, tallying four turnovers and a blocked shot down low after Jake Kettner recorded his second takeaway to drive the court and hit a bucket down low. Dunwa Omot was also hot in the first half, scoring 8 points after being led by a pair of 3s.

“Early the guys found me, and I hit two consecutive ones, when I got cold, the other guys stepped up, but they found me later on,” Omot said. “We shot the ball really well. In playoffs, you don’t want to go home. We have to play at our best and everyone stay aggressive.”

Kettner had 19 points in the first half, and some came late after he recorded two takeaways and drove the paint uncontested for the easy points for MVL. Kettner also added a 3 in between the layups as MVL led 31-21 with 3:35 left in the first.

“We have been moving the ball really well, it has been important to us to just get out early defensively and kind of punch them in the mouth that way,” Kettner said. “It starts on the defensive end, which leads into our offense.”

The Chargers stayed hot after the break and continued to build a huge lead by going on a 10-2 run immediately in the second half.

MVL continued to showed its dominance when a Mayer Lutheran inbounded ball was bobbled by defensive pressure under the hoop. Matthew Munsen tipped a pass above everyone right in the hands of Jace Marotz for the easy bucket and consecutive points for the Chargers.

The Chargers win now gives them a chance to be the subsection champions as section playoffs continue on Monday. They will be facing off against New Ulm Cathedral at 8 p.m. Monday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Kettner led the Chargers with 24 points, eight steals and four assists, while Marotz had 18 points with seven rebounds. Omot ended with 17 points.