Chargers win crosstown battle

ST. PETER — After a 12-0 run early on in the second half helped No.4-seeded New Ulm Cathedral battle back to take a 42-38 lead over Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Monday night, the Greyhounds appeared to have just the kind of momentum they needed to finish off a come-from-behind win.

But the No. 2-seeded Chargers matched that 12-0 run and used it to help come away with a 72-56 win in the Section 2A, North Subsection boys’ basketball finals at Gustavus Adolphus College.

MVL was led by Jake Kettner with 25 points, four steals, four rebounds and three assists, while Dunwa Omot added 13 points, three steals and three blocks. Also for the Chargers, Mason Cox and Jace Marotz each chipped in 12 points, with Cox pulling in seven boards.

Cathedral was led by Alex Hillesheim’s 17 points and nine rebounds, while Chris Knowles added 14 points and five boards. Jon Zinniel and Ethan Kirchberg each scored 9 points for the Greyhounds, while Zinniel added 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Both squads were tied in head-to-head meetings this season at 1-1 heading into Monday night, with each team picking up a win away from home. With a strong finish to Monday night’s third meeting, though, the Chargers ended the season series with the ultimate win.

“It means a lot because they’re a quality team, really well-coached and they play good defense,” Kettner said. “And they just beat BOLD, so they can play with anybody in the state. It was just a huge game and the rivalry means so much for us.”

The win moves MVL on to a meeting with Springfield, the South Subsection champions, at 6 p.m. on Friday at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

“It’s been really fun going one-on-one with Cathedral and now Springfield,” Kettner said. “We have just as much confidence that we can beat [Springfield] because if we play defense like we did tonight and like we did the first time we played Springfield, I think we can compete with anybody.”

MVL is 1-1 against Springfield this season.

The Chargers extended their lead to 38-30 right out of the gate in the second half on a bucket inside by Cox, but the Greyhounds went on a 12-0 run, tying it up at 38-all with a 3 by Kirchberg and taking the lead on a layup by James Gillis. Knowles then added another bucket to push the Cathedral lead to 42-38 and finish the run.

But then it was MVL’s turn for a 12-0 run of its own.

After Kettner added a bucket in the paint and Omot added back-to-back buckets, the Chargers took the lead back, 44-42. Kettner then buried a 3 to put MVL up 47-42 and force a Greyhounds timeout with 9:31 left in the game. Omot then completed the run with an and-one for a 50-42 MVL lead.

The Chargers later pushed the lead to 60-47 after back-to-back buckets by Cox and a euro-step finish at the rim by Kettner, never looking back on the way to the win.

With both teams trading buckets early on in the first half, Marotz gave MVL a 16-13 lead on a 3-pointer with less than 12 minutes to go before the half. That was the first lead of more than 2 points for either team up to that point.

With MVL extending its lead to 4, Kirchberg sank a free throw before dropping in a 3 to tie it up at 19-all with 7:22 to go until the half. A late 3 by Kettner gave MVL its largest lead of the half, 32-25, and the Chargers carried a 36-30 lead into the break.

Despite a tough end to a solid season, Cathedral head coach Alan Woitas was happy with how his team battled and played all season.

“Credit to our guys, they just never quit,” Woitas said. “It was a 6-point deficit at the half, we came out and I think we were up 4 with

about 10 [minutes] to go. We didn’t make some shots, we had a few good

looks, but they [Chargers] were able to convert on the other end, so credit to their kids. Jake Kettner’s a special player and made some special plays tonight. But overall a great season. Seniors set the tone, they worked hard, they did a lot of good things, just came up a little bit short tonight. Scoreboard doesn’t quite dictate how close the game was.”

The Greyhounds finish their season with a 21-7 overall record.