Cardinals hand Chargers loss in final home game

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Olivia Hammer turns to the hoop during a nonconference girls basketball game Monday at MVL high school.

NEW ULM — Despite a 72-40 nonconference loss to Redwood Valley in Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s final home game of the season, Chargers girls basketball head coach Hailey Santos has a positive outlook for her team going into the future.

“We had one win last season, and we’re up to three this year,” Santos said. “We know that three is probably lower than what we would have liked it to be, but I have a lot of underclassmen that are stepping up in big ways in terms of stats, in terms of leadership and just work ethic. I think that culture of our program is changing for the better.

“We’re playing the long game right now and recognizing that we’re not going to be able to turn it around to a 20-win season in just one year. I’m happy with the progress that we’re seeing. I’m not content with where we’re at, but we’re looking to the future.”

MVL holds a 3-22 record on the season with one game to play at winless Immanuel Lutheran on Thursday, so the Chargers have a chance to pick up another win for their rebuilding team before playoffs start.

Against Redwood Valley, however, who improves to 16-10, MVL struggled against the full-court press, allowing the Cardinals to go on a 32-0 run after Avery Freier scored the first 3 points of the game for MVL. Freier finished with 9 points for the Chargers, while Olivia Hammer had 17 points. Mackenzie Merseth added 5 points for the Chargers.

After Redwood Valley’s opening run, the two teams scored more evenly, with the Cardinals holding a 44-14 lead going into half. MVL got hot from behind the arc in the middle of the second half, with Hammer hitting a pair of 3s, Ella Hunter hitting a shot from deep to cut the lead to 59-29.

Avery Hopp and Merseth hit two more shots in the paint before Redwood Valley called a timeout. After the timeout, MVL was able to put out an all-senior squad of Abby Hartwig, Maddie Schmidt, Merseth, Hunter and Kathryn Dinse for their final home game.

“It was fun to get to see them do a little blast from the past,” Santos said. “I coached them at the C-squad level, so it was nice getting them all out on the court together. One of my seniors [Kerigan Brau] is out with a concussion today, and I let her make the play call. She chose defense and offense.

“It was fun to see them get that opportunity to play together. There’s no guarantee of that in the next couple of games, so letting them have that moment together was really special.”

Merseth hit another 3 for the senior squad to pull within 62-36, but Redwood Valley got hot on the other end as well, closing out the game with a 10-4 run for the win.


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