MW WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Lady Jays ready for second seasonWORTHINGTON — Alyson Drooger can’t remember the first time she picked up a basketball.
WORTHINGTON — Alyson Drooger can’t remember the first time she picked up a basketball.
The question isn’t when basketball came into Drooger’s life, but, rather, when basketball wasn’t part of her life.
“My dad was the (Edgerton) coach when I was born and my mom was a gym teacher at Edgerton, so I think I’ve been playing basketball forever,” Drooger said. “We’ve been a sports family since before I was born.”
Drooger’s sophomore season with Minnesota West’s women’s basketball team has been a special one, as it’s become hard to find a list of statistical leaders in the MCAC Southern Division without her name somewhere.
Drooger’s 17.5 points per game is higher than any player in the division by nearly two points per game. She’s third in 3-point percentage (.388) with seven more attempts than Anoka’s Maria Loughlin and 96 more than Riverland’s Cassie Masberg, who are first and second, respectively, in 3-point percentage.
Drooger is fifth in field goal percentage (.461) with 21 more attempts than anyone in the top 10 and owns the highest free-throw percentage (.844) by more than 30 percent.
One way or another, Drooger’s career at Minnesota West will be coming to an end in the coming days, but not yet.
“I’m hoping it’s not my last game with Minnesota West,” Drooger said. “If we go in and play Rochester like we played them here, then we get another chance at Anoka and hopefully keep going.”
Drooger will be leading the Lady Jays (19-8) into the postseason Saturday at 8 p.m. versus Rochester (20-6) in the Region 13A semifinals at Anoka Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids.
Drooger isn’t the only Lady Jay who could be putting on her MW jersey for the last time this weekend as Kayla Schroeder, Erin Ebbers, Katherine Kazemba and Katie Hadler can relate to the possibility of saying goodbye to the blue and white jersey.
“We’re going to play like we did (Feb. 22) and take it,” Schroeder said. “It’s simple.”
Schroeder was 5 years old when she picked up a basketball and has been playing organized hoops since she was 9 years old. She’s trying not to think about the moment when she realizes her basketball career at MW is over.
“You never know when it’s going to end, so you just have to think it isn’t going to end,” Schroeder said. “We’re going to play Saturday and Sunday.”
MW split the season series with Rochester, losing 75-60 on Jan. 28 on the road and winning 64-48 on Feb. 22 at home.
“After 27 games and a lot of work, I think we’re there,” MW coach Mike Fury said. “It’s a rubber match with Rochester.
“Hopefully we can keep this momentum going. We’re looking forward to it, but I think we’re where we want to be.”
There is never one specific thing in a sporting event which changes a game from a victory to a defeat, so Fury wasn’t able to pinpoint one difference between the polar opposite games during the regular season.
“We just have to play with intensity, play good defense and take care of the basketball,” Fury said. “I think we’re playing hard now and doing a really good job with the intensity.”
In the first meeting with Rochester, the Lady Jays started slow and never recovered, shooting 30 percent in the first half and turning the ball over 18 times for the game.
In the second meeting between the two teams, the Lady Jays started the game off on 22-5 run and never looked back. It was as if the first game never happened.
“It’s a good thing and a bad thing that we split with them,” Drooger said. “We know we can beat them, but they also know they can beat us.
“Both teams are going to come out strong and ready to go. We’re just going to have to work hard the whole 40 minutes of the game.”
The sophomores aren’t the only ones not ready to say goodbye.
“We always look to our sophomores for leadership,” Fury said. “You hate to see them go, but they did a great job and I’ve been so lucky to be able to coach them.
“You hate to see them go, but hopefully we got a couple more games left with them.”
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy can be reached at 376-7328.