A look back
MVL’s Tomahawk Conference domination
Biedenbender coached for 15 years at the school and had a career record of 316-99. During that time, he took the Chargers to the state tournament three times (2004-05, 05-06, 07-08), taking third place once (05-06) and fourth place once (04-05).
The Chargers also dominated the Tomahawk Conference and he won eight conference titles in his career.
Biedenbender now works at MLC, where he was an assistant coach for the women’s programand served as head coach one year. While he enjoyed coaching at the college level, some of his best memories were at MVL.
While the Chargers had some very competitive teams earlier in Biedenbender’s career, they earned their first section championship under Biedenbender in the 2004-05 season.
“It was a huge relief,” Biedenbender said. “I started coaching at MVL in 2000, and they had taken second in the 1999-2000 state tournament the year before I arrived. We made the section final game two out of the next four years (losing to Springfield and Belle Plaine), but couldn’t quite get over the hump and get to state again. When we made it in 04-05, it was a huge accomplishment and we were all pretty pumped.”
That year, the Chargers finished the season 28-3, losing twice at the state tournament to finish fourth. Their only regular season loss was to Wabasso in what was the last game of the regular season, a team that also had a lot of success at that time and won a state title in 2004.
MVL had a relatively young squad that year, starting four juniors.The starters were Karissa Kramer (Jr.), Kristin Patterson (Jr.), Amanda Dettman (Jr.), Laura Hunter (Jr.) and senior Eva Voss. Kramer led the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 steals per game. Patterson averaged 10.5 ppg.
Playing in their first state tournament, the Chargers got off to a good start. They opened the Class AA state tournament with a 41-33 victory over Hawley. Biedenbender said that Hawley played a deliberate, slow-down game, but the Chargers pulled away at the end.
MVL then lost 54-42 to Pequot Lakes in the semifinals. There, Flecia Foster and Theresa Parker caused problems for the Chargers and knocked them into the third-place game.
MVL played Albany at Augsburg in the third-place game and lost 51-48.
“We got done with our semifinal game late Friday night and then had to check out of our hotel, get over to Augsburg, and play on Saturday morning,” Biedenbender said. “We were all very tired and not in a good state of mind. We hung in there, but just couldn’t quite pull the game out. Albany had a couple Noreen girls on their team who later played at MSU-Mankato, as well.”
The state tournament run was beneficial for the Chargers in a number of ways. It gave them confidence that they could get there and compete against the best teams in the state. It also meant that a team that had four juniors that started had bigger goals for their senior year.
“They gained a ton of experience from that first state tournament trip,” Biedenbender said.
“Having made it to the state tournament in 04-05, they were confident they could do it again in 05-06. They also had experience playing in Williams Arena on the raised floor and at the Target Center with TV coverage. But most of all, they learned so much from having to play the third-place game with a quick turn-around after the Friday night semifinal game. They knew they didn’t come out with the right mindset for the third-place game in 04-05, and they weren’t going to let that happen again.”
The Chargers reloaded for another state tournament run in 05-06. There, they finished the season 32-1, losing in the state semifinals before finishing the season with a win in the third-place game.
The starters consisted of Kramer, Patterson, Dettman, Hunter and Kelsey Krohn, with Cara Hanson as the top reserve. All of them were seniors that year. Kramer again led the balanced-scoring team with 15.7 ppg. Patterson scored 13.3 ppg and Hunter scored 10.8 ppg.
MVL opened with a 74-63 victory over Winona Cotter at the Sports Pavilion at the University of Minnesota. It was a fast-paced game but MVL had too many weapons.
“Winona Cotter full-court pressed us most of the game, and we were able to break through it for some easy hoops on the other end,” Biedenbender said. “The game turned into a real track meet, but our girls played an outstanding game.”
Cannon Falls gave the Chargers some trouble in the semifinals at Target Center. There, Alex and Cory Montgomery helped lead the Bombers to a 68-58 victory. Cory Montgomery played four years at the University of Nebraska and she hit some 3-pointers in the game. Biedenbender said he didn’t expect that since she was a big post player.
In the third-place game, the Chargers rebounded and defeated Eden Valley-Watkins 58-51 at Concordia.
“This time we were ready to play the third-place game and had the right mindset,” Biedenbender said. “We had awesome fan support from our students, parents, and other supporters. We took control of the game from the beginning and were not going to be denied. Our experience from the year before really helped. We were all very happy to have those third place medals around our necks after the game.”
It was also tough for him to say goodbye to a talented senior class, but he said they made his job fun.
“It was an absolute pleasure to watch those girls play,” he said. “They all worked so hard at the game of basketball, and they absolutely loved the game. They played with such intensity. At different times over my years of coaching I felt like I was more into it and excited about the game than my players were, but that wasn’t true with this group of girls. They definitely matched my intensity and excitement for the game and probably exceeded it. That’s one of the biggest reasons they were so good. They put their heart and soul into every practice and game.”
The Chargers made their third state tournament appearance, but it didn’t last long. There, MVL lost to Hayfield 55-43 in the quarterfinals and were knocked out since there wasn’t a consolation bracket that year.
“We played a terrible first half against Hayfield in the state quarterfinal game and never recovered,” Biedenbender said. “We just couldn’t figure out their match-up zone defense and couldn’t hit a shot. We outscored them in the second half, but it was too little too late.”
The starters were Amanda Barrer (Sr.), Trisha Kramer (Sr.), Caitlin Meyer (Sr.), Kara Black (Sr.), and Amanda Burk (Jr.). Black led the team in scoring, averaging 18.8 ppg and 7.2 rebounds per game. Barrer scored 13.1 ppg and Burk averaged 12.5 ppg.
MVL finished the season 27-4, losing twice to Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s and also to Blue Earth Area during the middle of the season before losing to Hayfield in the state tournament.
While the season ended with just one state tournament game, it was a sentimental season for the Biedenbender family.
“The most special thing about this team was that my daughter Sara and her friends were seniors on the team that year,” he said. “I had been coaching and working with them since they were in sixth or seventh grade. We had gone to many Pacesetter tournaments, summer tournaments, and summer league games together over the years. Making it to the state tournament was the culmination of lots of years of work and team building. It was fun to see the end result of all the time and effort we all put in. While the state tournament didn’t go as we hoped it would, making it to state was a great accomplishment.”