MW WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Lady Jays close regular season in dominating fashionWORTHINGTON — Minnesota West’s women’s basketball team closed out the regular season Saturday afternoon, dismantling Riverland 82-51 in the Southern Division showdown.
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West’s women’s basketball team closed out the regular season Saturday afternoon, dismantling Riverland 82-51 in the Southern Division showdown.
With MW (19-8, 8-4) having locked up a meeting with Rochester in the first round of the Region 13A playoffs March 3, it would have been easy to overlook the Blue Devils and focus on the postseason. The Lady Jays, however, never missed a beat and cruised throughout the game.
“What a great game for us,” MW Mike Fury said. “We played great, steady basketball throughout 40 minutes, we did the things we were supposed to do, took care of the ball, shot very well and we’re looking pretty good.
“We’re hitting a stride right now. We’re right where we want to be going into the playoffs. After 27 games, this is what we work for all year.”
MW certainly didn’t play as if it were a trap game, breaking out to a 27-10 lead behind three 3-pointers from Ilissa Koehl (16 points, two rebounds) seven points from Brittany Hulstein (24 points, five rebounds, three assists) and five points from Alyson Drooger (20 points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks).
Two free throws by Hulstein pushed the Lady Jays’ lead to 43-20 and, after a 4-0 run by the Blue Devils brought the MW lead into the teens, Drooger hit a jumper, Katey Granstra (seven points, eight rebounds, four blocks) scored inside and Drooger netted a layup to push the MW lead to 49-24 at the break.
“We came out strong right away,” Drooger said. “Their season depended on this game, so we knew they would come out ready to play, so we knew we had to come out more ready to play and we did that.”
A layup for the Blue Devils cut the Lady Jays’ lead to 51-32, but Riverland would get no closer. MW responded with a 16-7 run behind a jumper from Kayla Schroeder (11 points), four free throws from Drooger, two low post baskets from Granstra and Koehl’s fourth and final 3-pointer of the game.
The Lady Jays added another 13-6 run to make the game a blowout, sporting their largest lead at 79-43 en route to the victory.
“We said we had to come out and play defense and that’s what we did,” Schroeder said. “We were worried about the size difference, but we just said everyone had to learn to guard everyone, no matter what the size.”
Riverland shot just 26.5 percent (18 for 68) for the game, including 1-of-10 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Everyone came to play, we took care of business like we were supposed to and it was a good win for us,” Fury said.
MW will take on Rochester Saturday in the Regiona 13A Tournament in Coon Rapids. The Lady Jays split the two games versus Rochester this season.
“It’s the rubber match,” Fury said. “They’re a nice team and I think we’re a good team, so it’s just going to be one of those good tournament games.
“That’s the way they’re supposed to be.”
Riverland 24 27 — 51
MW 49 33 — 82
Riverland (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Anderson 0-1-4-6, Lau 0-1-2-4, Masberg 0-2-0-4, Aase 0-5-2-12, Murphy 0-5-1-11, Hebrink 1-0-3-6, Arjes 0-2-1-5, Gindratt 0-1-1-3. Total 1-17-14-51.
Minnesota West (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Koehl 4-0-4-16, Kazemba 0-2-0-4, Drooger 3-4-3-20, Hulstein 1-5-11-24, Schroeder 2-2-1-11, Granstra 0-2-3-7. Total 10-15-22-82.
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy can be reached at 376-7328.