NEW ULM - It is uncommon when a high school basketball team takes a lead at the very start of a game and does not give that lead up.
On Tuesday night, Minnesota Valley Lutheran did just that in their 66-50 win against New Ulm Cathedral in boy's basketball.
MVL built a 38-21 halftime lead despite poor free-throw shooting, sinking only 9-of-21 shots from the charity stripe.
Meanwhile, Cathedral was held to 15 field goal attempts in the first half, making five of them. A 3-pointer from Jack Schwartz and eight made free throws accounted for the offense in the first half.
The absence of an injured Gabe Knowles hampered the Cathedral scoring.
Meanwhile, the Chargers were able to ride sophomore Jacob Hoffman's 18 first-half points along with 10 from Nick Dewanz.
Fans may say the game was closer than the final score indicates and that was the case in the MVL-Cathedral matchup.
With nine minutes left in the game, the Chargers held a seemingly safe 17-point lead.
Cathedral staged a comeback and cut the lead to 56-47, but MVL turned in seven consecutive points to gain momentum.
While Hoffman and Dewanz hurt Cathedral, Greyhounds' coach Alan Woitas said the lack of rebounding by his team, esepcially in the first half, was critical.
"We gave them too many second-half points in the first half and that hurt us," Woitas said. "In the second half we were only out-rebounded by two. MVL has a lot of players that can hurt you. We do not want to play games in the 80s, we want to keep games low-scoring."
Woitas said his team kept on fighting when it cut the lead to nine points late.
"We made a nice run before they had two runout layups," Woitas said. "We had some open shots and good looks toward the end of the game but could not knock down the shots."
He admitted that the team is still a work in progress in his first year at the helm.
"Our goal is to keep getting better and hopefully by February we are playing our best basketball of the year and maybe we can surprise a few teams later in the year," Woitas said.
The win for the Chargers was one that they needed and got thanks to the play of Hoffman outside and Dewanz inside.
"[Dewanz] did a nice job inside," said MVL coach Craig Morgan. "He has soft hands and has a good touch around the rim. He did miss a few shots tonight but was able to get his own rebounds and put them back.It was nice to have his inside presence.
"We needed the win in conference. The conference is pretty even so this was a big win."
SOUTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE TOUGH: Weather permitting, the New Ulm boy's basketball team will host Mankato West of the Big Nine Conference.
But the South Central Conference may be as tough as any.
Fairmont is 5-1 in the conference and 13-2 overall. St. James Area has a 4-1 SCC mark and is 11-1 overall, while Waseca has a 4-1 conference mark and an overall record of 12-2.
BIEDENBENDER NEARS MARK: Minnesota Valley Lutheran girl's basketball coach Dave Biedenbender has 298 career wins. His 300th will probably come on the road as MVL has four games on the road coming up at GFW, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Springfield and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
FISCHER PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Kyle Fischer of New Ulm and St. Cloud State has been named Preseason Division II All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine and St. Cloud State is preseason No. 7 in rankings.
Last year, Fischer was 11-2 with a 1.81 ERA with 61 strikeouts. Two other New Ulmites, Zach Hoffmann and Garrett Fischer, are also members of the team.
Hoffmann hit .351 for the Huskies with 16 RBIs and three home runs. Garrett Fisher banged out a .400 batting average and had nine doubles, three triples and stole nine bases.