Chargers clinch guaranteed share of Tomahawk in final conference game

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Kyler Flunker dribbles the ball across midcourt while guarded by Cedar Mountain’s Branndon Pendleton during a Tomahawk Conference boys basketball game at MVL High School on Thursday night.

NEW ULM — In their last ever boys basketball game in the Tomahawk Conference, Minnesota Valley Lutheran earned a share of the conference crown.

Ben Pearson poured in a game-high 35 points and added seven rebounds as the Chargers downed Cedar Mountain 93-66 Thursday night.

Maverick Johnson added 16 points for the Chargers, who improved their overall mark to 19-5 and ended the conference with a 13-3 mark. Aaron Black added 10 points also for MVL.

Blake Schueller led the Cougars (14-9, 8-8) with 23 points, while Branndon Pendleton added 18 and Blake Steffl 12.

“This was a tough game knowing that we had Steve Sather, our conference statistician, comes down and says that you know that this is your last game in the Tomahawk,” MVL head coach Craig Morgan said. “That hit home hard — we have been in the conference as a school for a long time. I have coached 25 years in the conference, so it was kind of bitter-sweet — great conference to be in and bitter-sweet to leave it.”

Next season MVL will be in the new South Central Conference. Cedar Mountain, meanwhile, will be in the newly formed Tomahawk-Valley Conference.

The Chargers started off like they were going to run Cedar Mountain out of the MVL gym as they jumped to a fast 23-8 and then increased that to a 35-10 cushion using a 3 from Johnson and three treys from Pearson, who made nine of 16 shots from beyond the arc in the game.

A Pearson jumper ballooned the score to 45-18 game midway through the first 18 minutes.

But the Cougars got back into the game as they turned the tables on the Chargers, outscoring them 19-4 to close out the first half and trail 49-37 at the break.

“We backed off somehow and we cannot take our foot off of the gas,” Morgan said. “We put in some subs and we did not get the intensity. We talked about that at halftime — we made some adjustment on their zone and we took advantage of those.”

MVL used that to outscore the Cougars 16-8, regain momentum and take a 65-45 lead off of a Will Kaesermann basket.

The lead grew to 78-52 on a Kyler Flunker basket and then 83-59 on Pearson’s eighth 3 of the game.

“His 35 points were not a forced 35,” Morgan said. “We moved the ball around the perimeter really well tonight especially in that first half. Maverick, Kyler and Ben [Halvorson] hit some shots. Then we get inside with Will and Aaron [Black]. And it was nice to play a lot of kids tonight — we got all of our seniors in. It was pretty memorable.”

Springfield can earn a share of the conference title also Friday night with a win at Wabasso.

The Chargers are at Le Sueur-Henderson on Monday while Cedar Mountain hosts Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther next Tuesday.


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