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Charger girls remain unbeaten in conference

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Emma Nelson (22) and Kaylee Hunter (2) defend as Courtney Wendt (11) of Springfield takes a shot during the first half Friday at MVL.

NEW ULM — Sometimes a big lead early on can be a bad thing.

On Friday night, the Minnesota Valley Lutheran girls’ basketball team raced out to a 22-9 early lead over Springfield. The Tigers fought back and finished the first half strong, taking a 34-30 lead into halftime on a 3-pointer by Maddy Digmann.

But the Chargers regrouped at halftime and remained unbeaten in Tomahawk Conference play with a 70-65 victory over the Tigers on Friday night.

Emma Nelson and Abbie Riederer each led the Chargers with 22 points. Nelson also had 13 rebounds and Kaylee Hunter finished with 9 points, seven points and seven assists.

Sydney Hauger led all scorers with 28 points for the Tigers. She also had nine rebounds. Courtney Wendt had 10 points and seven rebounds and Megan Ploeger finished with 11 points for the Tigers (11-2, 6-2).

“We came into this game knowing that they’re a good team,” Nelson said about the Tigers. “We just had to work hard and shut them down.”

The Chargers led 5-0 and 11-4 early on and the lead grew from there. Abbie Riederer got off to a fast start and hit a jumper to giver her team a 22-9 lead with 9:24 left in the first half.

The Tigers looked tired and had to adjust their lineup after losing senior Taylor Augustin for the season on Tuesday night. The lineup featured seven players and the fatigue showed at times during the game.

“We’re kind of going through some growing pains, we just had Taylor Augustin go down with an ACL, so now we’re just trying to find our way, a little bit without her,” Springfield coach Dillon Schultz said. “We played pretty much with seven and you know the kids are going to get tired. I tried calling timeouts in the second half to keep us fresh.”

The Tigers were able to take advantage of a few MVL mistakes later in the first half. A basket inside by Megan Ploeger cut MVL’s lead to 28-22 and the Tigers eventully took a 31-30 lead on a free throw with 25 second left. Digmann’s 3-pointer gave them a 4-point lead going into the break.

“I thought, just how we finished the first half, if we come out and play with that energy in the second half, we’d be plenty good,” Schultz said. “Obviously, a few loose balls here or there comes out to be the difference in the game. Their girls fought hard.”

The Chargers responded in the second half and took a 38-34 lead on a 3 from Riederer. The Tigers led 46-42 later, but an 8-0 run gave MVL (9-2, 6-0) the lead again.

The Chargers took the lead for good on a basket from Emma Nelson and a 3-pointer from Maddie Pearson put the Chargers up 62-56. Late free throws helped the Chargers hang on to improve to 9-2 overall and 6-0 in the conference.

At this point in the season, the Chargers are settling into a groove.

“We’re beginning to learn our roles,” MVL coach Rollin Timm said. “We’re gaining confidence in each other, every year we bring up new people and the older people have to gain confidence in the younger ones.”

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