NEW ULM - As cushions go, it's sometimes nice to have one that's overinflated.
That was the case for the 8-0 Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers girls basketball team, who opened up a 21-point lead midway through the second half, but ended up beating the Sleepy Eye Indians by just nine, 65-56.
It wasn't the prettiest ballgame on record, as the two clubs combined for 60 turnovers, with the Indians 35 making more of a difference than the Chargers 25.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Anna Munsen (right) blocks a shot from Josie Schieffert of Sleepy Eye during the second half Tuesday at MVL.
"Sleepy Eye's a good team," MVL coach Dave BIedenbender said. "We were able to hold them at arm's length and made some crucial shots and free throws at the end."
It was still a frustrating loss for a 1-7 Sleepy Eye team that starts two freshman, two sophomores and a junior. "We're close, we really are," Indians coach Ryan Hulke said. "We matched their post play. It's right there. We shot 50 percent from the floor when we didn't turn the ball over, but tonight it was all about our turnovers."
Those turnovers were fast and furious early for Sleepy Eye, who committed 13 of them less than eight minutes into the game. By that time, the Chargers had just got done scoring six in a row, four from Martha Johnston, to put MVL up 16-8.
After the Chargers took a 25-12 lead following a three-pointer from Mariah Stein, the Indians were later able to shave the lead to 30-24 after a Claire Krumbach layup. Still, the Chargers took a 33-24 lead into halftime, scoring 21 of their points off 21 Indians turnovers.
MVL shot off to a great start in the second half, building their lead to 55-34 after a trey by Larissa DeRousse. After fighting off a tough Sleepy Eye defense in the first half, the Chargers were able to do a much better job of getting the ball inside for easier shots, also in part because there were a couple of Sleepy Eye players with three fouls.
Things started to change with a quarter of the game to play. The Indians went on a 13-2 run by going to their main scorer Krumbach and taking advantage of Josie Schieffert's six-foot presence inside.
After a Krumbach layup with 1:41 to go, Sleepy Eye had climbed to within eight, 61-53. But a layup by MVL's Anna Munsen, an Indians turnover and a pair of free throws from Alexa Alfred sealed the win for the Chargers.
For MVL, Munsen had 12 points and seven rebounds and DeRousse scored 11 and had three steals. For Sleepy Eye, Krumbach had 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals and Alicia Ibarra chipped in 11 points.
MVL plays next on Thursday, December 27 in the St. Clair Holiday Tournament at 7:45 p.m. against Jackson County Central, while Sleepy Eye hosts Cleveland on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.