New Ulm girls basketball team remains strong despite injuries

When the New Ulm Eagles girls basketball team lost senior standout Daviney Dreckman to a season-ending ACL injury in a 69-59 win over Mankato West on Jan. 27, Eagles head coach Julie Rogers said that the team made a decision.

“They decided that they needed to get more rebounds and make up for the loss of Daviney,” she said. “She was our leading rebounder — she was averaging six rebounds a game. So we got more players going in for a rebound. And when we have more kids crashing the boards and sharing that responsibility, we are possessing the ball more, we are getting more second chance looks and we are also stopping the other team from getting them.”

That mindset has led the Eagles to a nine-game winning streak to end the regular season and a 20-6 regular season record, their first since the 2018-19 season.

And grabbing that rebound has keyed the Eagles offense.

“Anyone pretty much on our team can put it on the floor and advance it up the floor pretty quickly,” Rogers said. “One of our strengths is running the court. The ball is getting to the other end of the court quicker.”

Rogers said that when Dreckman was injured, she was not worried about what would happen to the team but more about Dreckman, who Rogers nominated for Miss Basketball in Minnesota.

“She has dedicated her life to basketball,” Rogers said. “She has already had one ACL tear, so I was nervous that this would be something that she would have a hard time overcoming. But she has been at every practice encouraging. If you listen to her on the bench she has slid into that coaching role that Brooklyn [Lewis] occupied when she was out with an injury. I could not be prouder of Daviney for that.”

In the nine-game winning streak, the Eagles have scored 97 and 96 points and added 82-, 83- and 89-point games.

“We are averaging 81 points a game in the last nine games,” Rogers said. “And looking at the season stats, we have seven players who score in double digits. Brooklyn is averaging 19.3 points a game and shooting 49% from the field. When we have that many kids putting out points, you can’t stop just one player.”

And they are young.

Lewis and Betsy Joyce are sophomores.

“Maggie Joyce is an eighth-grader and we have moved up seventh-grader Leah Brustad to the varsity. We do not have a senior in the starting lineup,” Rogers said.

She said that she is tweaking the Eagles defense that is allowing 57.7 points per game.

“My assistant Mitch Lewis is more of an offensive specialist, so we compliment each other very well,” she said. “We are not playing perfect basketball offensively or defensively, but we are right where we need to be at this point of the season.”

Rogers said that in her first season as head coach, the Eagles won 13 games.

“We won 17 in my second year and our goal was to get to 20. I want to see us get higher than 20 this year.”

New Ulm is in a tough Section 2AAA with St. Peter, Mankato East and Marshall.

“Whoever comes out of this will have something to be proud of,” Rogers said. “But we have not played our best basketball yet this season — that game is yet to be seen.”


Even though Minnesota Valley Lutheran is leaving the Tomahawk Conference at the start of next season for the newly formed South Central Conference, the Chargers are still going to play some Tomahawk Conference teams.

“We are still going to play Springfield in boys and girls basketball as well as Cathedral,” MVL Activities Director Craig Morgan said. “Boys basketball will play [Sleepy Eye] St. Mary’s and GFW, so we still have some of the Tomahawk teams. We have 13 nonconference games to fill.”

The Chargers, who moved to 20-5 on the season after a 68-60 road win Monday at Le Sueur-Henderson, close out their regular season schedule at home this Friday when they host Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.

Currently the co-champions of the Tomahawk Conference are second in Section 2AA North behind 17-6 Belle Plaine. Section 2AA South has two 20-win teams in Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.

“I am hoping that our best basketball is still to come,” Morgan said. “We were without Will Kaesermann, who separated his shoulder in the game against Cedar Mountain — he put it back in — but it was a hole to fill [Monday]. We need to play good defense, rebound well and not force up shots in the section tournament. We need to be patiently aggressive.”


The New Ulm Eagles boys hockey team (20-5) starts play in Section 3A Thursday when they host the winner of the Redwood Valley-Windom game at 7 p.m. at the New Ulm Civic Center.

For New Ulm and head coach Ryan Neuman, the Eagles are ready to go.

“We are fully healthy for the first time all year besides losing senior forward Joey Fingland to a broken arm that happened Tuesday against Hopkins,” Neuman said. “We got Talan Helget back (torn meniscus) and he has played in our last three games. He played defense the first two games and he played forward against Litchfield on Thursday when we were short forwards and I think that he will be at forward in the playoffs. We moved Ian Brudelie back to defense which has been a huge step in the right direction.”

Neuman said that his team has been playing some of their best hockey all year.

“Our confidence is up so we just need to show up and take care of business,” Neuman said.

A win Thursday would have the Eagles facing the winner of the Mankato East/Loyola-Minnesota River game Saturday at Don Roberts Ice Arena at Gustavus Adoplhus College. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.


New Ulm High School boys basketball senior Colton Benson is currently one of 35 boys basketball players selected by the Mr. Basketball Committee to be on the watchlist for 2024 Mr. Basketball for the state of Minnesota. The top 10 finalists will be published on Feb. 26, and the Final Five will be published on March 17 before the winner is announce following the State Basketball tournaments. Benson recently became NUHS’s all-time boys basketball career points leader and surpassed 2,000 career points on Feb. 12.


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