NEW ULM - Had David and Goliath instead chosen to settle their differences on a basketball court, it may have turned out pretty similarly to Tuesday night's Tomahawk Conference boys' basketball game between Minnesota Valley Lutheran and Springfield.
The Tigers made good use of their size advantage in the contest, which they combined with an effective fast break offense to earn an 84-73 victory.
"I think it came down to we got out on the break a little bit and got a run going where we made a few shots, and probably took advantage of our inside game a little bit against those guys," Springfield head coach Lance Larson said. "And we got lucky - they work hard, and they made some shots at the beginning and didn't give up."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Seth Kroells grabs a rebound away from Tyler Vogel (43) of Springfield during the fist half Tuesday at MVL.
MVL put together a solid offensive showing, led by strong play at the low post by sophomore Seth Kroells (team-high 16 points). However, the Chargers were left playing catch up starting midway through the first half, during which time Springfield was able to thwart numerous comeback attempts by the home side.
"We hustled a lot," Kroells said. "If we would have kept going, we probably could have pulled it out if we had a little more height and a little more inside. But we hustled really well."
The Chargers took the first lead of the game on a basket by Nick Dewanz, but Springfield fought back, with senior Isaac Kirschstein's ninth point of the game giving the Tigers an 18-12 lead six minutes in.
MVL scored the next three baskets, with a long 2-pointer by Kroells tying the score at 18-18. However, a 3-pointer by Kirschstein broke a 20-20 tie and sparked a 13-2 Springfield run that gave the Tigers a lead they didn't relinquish the rest of the way.
"Shots were falling and we were running the fast break really well," Springfield sophomore Tyler Vogel said. "We were also getting a couple of offensive board put-backs, just really easy lay-up shots, and we seemed to be making them."
A 7-0 run by the Chargers that included a Ryan Grunke 3 and a Chad Lease lay-up off of an offensive steal cut the deficit to 33-29, but Springfield put together a 19-10 run to end the first half to take a 52-39 lead at the break.
"I was really happy with how we came out," MVL head coach Craig Morgan said. "We took care of the ball, we made the extra pass, and we moved our feet to get open. They've got some long and athletic kids, and we're just a bunch of short little guys, so we just had to pressure the ball a little bit more and hopefully not let them get inside. But they did a nice job, they got the lob a couple times inside from high to low and we just didn't defend it very well."
A 3-pointer by MVL senior Justin Bruns opened the scoring in the second half and set the tone for a vigorous stretch of play by the Chargers, but the closest they were able to narrow the gap was when a basket by Kroells made the score 61-54 with 11:48 remaining in the contest.
The Tigers' offense was sparked early in the second half by six points from 6-foot-5 senior Karson Herfurth, with 6-foot-3 sophomore Vogel scoring a team-high 11 points in the half for Springfield.
"I had a lot better second half than first," Vogel said. "It feels good - especially coming off a loss we needed a big win here, and it felt really good to score some points and help my team."
A hot stretch at the end of the game that included seven points by senior Kris Goetzke saw MVL narrow an 81-61 deficit to 81-71, but by then the result was in very little doubt.
The Chargers finished with five players in double figures in Kroells, Lease (14 points), Dewanz (12 points), Goetzke (12 points) and Grunke (11 points).
Cole Milbrath led the Tigers' offense with 19 points. Vogel finished with 18 points, Kirschstein netted 12 points, Cooper Scheffler contributed 10 points and Jacob Menage and Christopher Kretsch added seven points apiece.
MVL (0-5, 0-2) will travel to play LeSueur-Henderson on Monday.
"Our guys are getting resilient - they're really putting their mind to it and they're really selling out, and I'm really proud of them that they are buying into how we want to play and have to play," Morgan said. "It's been really nice to see, they hustle - I'm really happy with what they're doing."
Springfield (3-1, 1-1) will host Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Friday.
"We've got some confidence now," Vogel said. "We've got Cedar Mountain on Friday, we've just got to play fast against them. They're going to make some shots, but we've got to be able to defend the outside perimeter."