NEW ULM - It was the type of season-opener that the Minnesota Valley Lutheran boys basketball team would rather push aside and forget.
In a game that featured 62 fouls and 59 total turnovers (35 by the Chargers alone), West Lutheran defeated the Chargers 87-52 in the MLC Tip-off Tournament held at Martin Luther College.
Both teams drew plenty of whistles - 31 fouls apiece - but the oddest statistic of the night may have been that not one single player fouled out.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
West Lutheran’s Dustin Barth (left) attempts to block a shot from Kris Goetzke of Minnesota Valley Lutheran during the first half of their Tip Off Tournament game Friday at Martin Luther College in New Ulm.
Still, the Chargers didn't seem to have a way to stop the ball movement and scoring ability of the Warriors, who were led in scoring by Dustin Barth, who finished 18 points.
"The first five, maybe 10 minutes, everyone was just nervous," MVL coach Craig Morgan said of his squad. "The first couple of weeks you intend to get better. We took one step and next week we'll take two steps. We'll cut off passes, next week we'll rebound and board better than we did. It's a work in progress, and we have stuff we have to improve on.
"We had 35 turnovers, and we knew we were going to turn the ball over, but some of the turnovers were unforced turnovers and that was kind of disappointing," Morgan added.
The Chargers were led in scoring by Ryan Grunke, who finished the game with 13 points. Chad Lease finished with nine points while Justin Bruns, Richard Jensen and Nick Dewanz all scored seven points.
"Ryan [Grunke] will definitely be our scoring leader out there, I think there will be some opportunities out there for Dewanz and Jensen, both of those guys will get a lot of points off of rebounds and Kris Goetzke will get us some points too," Morgan said.?"We'll get scoring, I'm not worried about that, it was just the lack of taking that extra step defensively."
The Chargers were outrebounded 50-37 and trailed 52-27 at halftime. The Warriors shot 53 percent from the floor in the first half and finished at 53 percent from the game, so it was tough for the Chargers to cool down the hot shooting.
MVL shot 32 percent in the game.
The Chargers look to get into the win column today when they play in the third-place game at 11:30 a.m. at Martin Luther College.
The Warriors play for the championship tonight at about 7:30 p.m.