PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Hulstein scores 2,000th career point in Fulda win over MCCFULDA — Ever since Courtney Hulstein has been playing varsity basketball for Fulda High School, she has always had her sights set high.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
FULDA — Ever since Courtney Hulstein has been playing varsity basketball for Fulda High School, she has always had her sights set high.
On Monday night, the senior guard accomplished not one, but two, remarkable feats as she surpassed 2,000 career points scored, while also dishing out her 600th-career assist in a 70-46 win for the Raiders over the Rebels of Murray County Central.
“It feels amazing,” Hulstein said following the game. “I’ve wanted this for a long time, ever since I’ve been playing.”
Last Thursday night, Hulstein set the bar for career points in the Fulda record book by eclipsing Kaitlyn Kramer. Now, with each game she plays, the standard will be placed higher and higher.
“Me and (Coach Gregg) Slaathaug were talking about breaking Kaityln’s record and Kaitlyn didn’t want me to break it,” Hulstein said with a laugh. “But she was just joking around. She’s happy for me and I’m really happy that I got my 2,000th.”
In front of a capacity crowd between the longtime Murray County rivals, Hulstein inched closer to the milestone by scoring 13 first-half points, despite an ice-cold shot from the field in the opening frame.
When asked if she had any nerves entering the game, Hulstein added, “I did. I don’t ever get really nervous but I was just standing there and I was like ‘Oh, my gosh.’ And I could feel it and I was like ‘Oh no.’”
Hulstein made one field goal in the first half (a 3-pointer from the left wing with nine seconds left before intermission), but went to the foul line 10 times and converted on each attempt.
However, her shots began to fall in the second half as she hit a mid-range jump shot with 12:26 to play to pull within six points and then closed to within three points of 2,000 with a step-around 3-pointer, shot off an inbounds play with 10:37 to go.
A lay up with 7:20 left pulled Hulstein within one point and the inevitable was just minutes away.
With 5:14 remaining, the Raiders swung the ball along the perimeter from left to right and Hulstein buried a 3 from the left corner off an assist from Tiffany Gehl (10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals).
That long-range shot moved her to 2,002 career points and she added two more a minute later to finish the game with 25 points, along with six assists and seven steals.
Slaathaug had nothing but praise for Hulstein following the contest.
“It’s pretty special. It’s really special,” Slaathaug said of the milestone. “You can run a lot of different things with her and she makes a lot of different things look good.
“I think the most impressive thing that she’s done is how well she has been with her teammates since grade school. And being better than everybody the whole way up, she was never negative with anybody and she was always a positive leader.
“She’s always the hardest worker. When your best player is your hardest worker, good things are going to happen. She’s put a tremendous amount of time in the gym and she’s a great kid. (After she leaves the program), she is going to be missed alot more as a person than as a player.”
Hulstein’s ability to make the Fulda offense go was put on display even after she finished scoring as she made a pair of beautiful passes in transition to Melissa Gehl (16 points) for baskets at 2:09 and 1:46 left, respectively.
Early in the game both teams countered one another as neither could gain any separtion.
Melissa Gehl opened the scoring off the tip-off with a lay-up four second into the game, which was countered by MCC’s Makenzie Giese with a 12-foot baseline jump shot 23 seconds later to make it 2-2.
The Raiders regained the advantage at 17:12 with another basket from Gehl, this time from the right elbow, but the Rebels responded as Haley Bose scored in the paint off an assist from Taylor Schreier (five rebounds) at 16:50.
After Hulstein converted a pair of free throws at 16:35, Crystal Van Iperen (12 points, five rebounds) tied the game at 6-6 with a lay-up after the Rebels broke through the Raiders full-court pressure with 16:26 left.
MCC gained its only lead of the game 34 seconds later at 7-6 when Bose converted a free throw.
Fulda tied the game at 7-7 with 15:01 left as Rachel Cheadle (nine points, 12 rebounds) made a free throw after being fouled on a putback chance.
Hulstein made another pair of charity shots to give the Raiders a 9-7 lead with 14:24 left in the first half before Schreier tied the game with 13:55 to go with a transistion basket off an assist from Jade Giese.
However, MCC succumbed to Fulda’s full-court pressure and the Raiders took control of the contest with a 13-3 run to make it 22-12 with six minutes left in the half.
The Rebels were plagued by an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers in the opening half.
“We had 24 turnovers in the first half,” MCC head coach Tom Pryor said. “Little panics, unforced turnovers, alot of traveling violations. We haven’t had that many turnovers, in a game, in a long time. They also had 22 foul shots in the first half, too. You can’t have that, it has to be even somewhere along the line.
“The turnovers and putting them at the foul line just didn’t give us any opportunities. They shoot too well from the foul line.”
The Rebels did manage to respond to the Raiders big run to make it 22-18 with 4:37 left as Jenna Ness (12 points) made a pair of free throws and a pair of field goals to cut into the host lead, but Fulda widened the gap from the charity stripe in the final 4:30.
Tiffany Gehl, Hulstein and Cheadle each made two foul shots, while Brook Wenzel added four from the foul line to make it 32-22 with 1:42 before the half.
MCC’s field goals in that span came from Mackenzie Giese and Ness before Hulstein closed out the first-half scoring with the 3 to make it 35-22 at the half.
“We just did get into any flow as a team in the first half,” Slaathaug said of the first-half action. “That first half took forever. There was no flow to the game on either end.
“In the second half, we got into a better flow and got things going.”
With the win and the Red Rock Conference championship already in hand, the Raiders improve to 21-5 overall and end the conference campaign with a 15-1 mark.
The Rebels drop to 12-9 overall and 10-6 in the conference (fourth place). MCC is the six seed in the Section 3A South tournament and will play Adrian in Worthington at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The Raiders are the No. 1 seed and also play on Saturday. They await the winner of Thursday night’s game between Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton. Fulda’s game on Saturday starts at 11:00 a.m.
Hulstein and Slaathaug both agree that the Raiders’ goal is bigger than a scoring milestone.
“Our goal since last summer has been to win the section,” Slaathaug said. “That hasn’t changed. We don’t want to minimize the conference, but the conference is small potatoes to what we have in store.
“Our goal is to win the section and we will be very disappointed if we don’t. We’ve had a great year and we will be happy about that later. But our has been, since last June, is to win the section and we are ready.”
MCC 22 24 — 46
Fulda 35 35 — 70
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Giese 0-2-3-7, Van Iperen 0-6-0-12, Bass 0-1-2-4, Hartle 1-0-0-3, Schreier 0-1-2-4, H. Bose 0-1-2-4, Ness 0-5-2-12. Totals 16-11-46.
Fuda (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Hulstein 3-3-10-25, M. Gehl 0-6-4-16, S. Cheadle 0-1-2-4, R. Cheadle 0-3-3-9, T. Gehl 0-2-6-10, Wenzel 0-1-4-6. Totals 3-16-29-70.