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MVL girls bring athletic shooters into 2021 season

File photo by Steve Muscatello Abbie Riederer is one of the key returning players for the Chargers this season.

NEW ULM — The Minnesota Valley Lutheran girls’ basketball team lost its share of quality shooters and rebounders to graduation last spring. But MVL head coach Rollin Timm expects his athletic group of girls to be an even stronger shooting team this season.

After graduating two top-rebounders in Emma and Abby Nelson, the Chargers have their word cut out for them early on in the 2021 season. Emma Nelson was a 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound club member, while her sister Abby played a big role on the boards off the bench with 8.7 rebounds per game.

“We obviously lost two great rebounders in those two — Emma had over a 1,000 rebounds and points in her career,” Timm said of losing the Nelson sisters. “I don’t foresee anyone being as dominant as they were. Because of that, I think that each and every girl we put on the floor is going to have to get after the boards, especially on the defensive end. I do believe that we have the girls who have the quickness and desire to get us our share of rebounds.”

The Chargers also graduated a key guard in Maddie Pearson. Pearson was known for distributing the ball and knocking down 3-pointers, averaging 8 points and 4.7 assists per game. Despite losing the 42% 3-point shooter, Timm said that he expects his team to be even better shooters this season.

“Offensively, we may have better overall shooting than last year. Abbie, Naomi and Kaylee all looked much improved when we were able to work this summer, and we will have a couple more girls up from the JV who are solid shooters. We will again try to play fast offensively and try to get to the hoop as often as possible.”

Riederer is the top returning starter from last season, averaging 19.5 points, six rebounds and three steals per game. She was also a member of the All Journal Girls’ Basketball First-Team last season.

Hunter returns this season after averaging 6.7 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals per game last season. Naomi Anderson averaged 3.5 points and three rebounds per game a year ago. Also expected to play a bigger role this season for the Chargers is Samantha Dalueg and Ella Schlei.

“We have a good number of players who will be able to contribute this year,” Timm said. “With the shortened season and the lack of time to get players into shape, we should have an advantage over some teams because we have a number of returners and a strong group of juniors who are coming up from a very successful JV season. They are very athletic, and we should be able to get after other teams; and hopefully, we will wear them down.”

Timm said that the biggest area of improvements his squad will need to make this season comes down to defense and better passing.

“The first thing that we need to improve upon this year will be our defense,” he said. “Our on-ball defense has to improve; and along with that, we must have better help and quicker rotations on the defensive side of the ball. The other area where we need to improve is with our passing — this really showed up when we played against some of our section opponents.”

With the looming question of if fans will be able to attend in any capacity or not this season due to COVID-19 restrictions, Timm said that his team will have to create their own energy and enthusiasm the best that they can if it comes down to it.

As for goals, Timm said he’d like to finish at the top of the Tomahawk Conference this season, and he also wants his team to really appreciate the opportunity to play the game after a difficult 2020.

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