MW MENS BASKETBALL: Balanced attack propels BluejaysWORTHINGTON — Putting a total of 12 players in the scoring column and forcing 20 turnovers Thursday night, the Minnesota West Bluejays built a 53-44 halftime lead and claimed a well-balanced 91-79 victory over the Morningside (JV) Mustangs in a non-conference college men’s basketball game at Worthington High School.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Putting a total of 12 players in the scoring column and forcing 20 turnovers Thursday night, the Minnesota West Bluejays built a 53-44 halftime lead and claimed a well-balanced 91-79 victory over the Morningside (JV) Mustangs in a non-conference college men’s basketball game at Worthington High School.
Orie Brown led the Bluejays with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, knocking down four of the team’s eight 3-pointers. Mitch Hopkins (11 points) and Luke Roddy (10 points, seven assists) also scored in double figures for Minnesota West, while Jackson Seitzinger, AJ Ourada (nine rebounds) and Tyler Aquallo each added eight points.
“It was good to get back on the winning track,” Minnesota West head coach Justin Heckenlaible said after the game. “We had good balance, offensively, as we do have lots of guys who play and who can all do some different things to contribute. We built a nice lead in the first half and did enough to maintain a cushion throughout most of the second half.”
The Bluejays, who improved to 3-1 overall, jumped out to quick 6-2 lead behind 3-pointers from Brown and Roddy. A mid-range jumper along the left baseline by Hopkins gave Minnesota West a 13-8 edge with 16 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
Displaying patience and good ball movement, the Bluejays continued to control the action and led 27-18 after Mitch Olson passed to Roddy for a 3-pointer in the right corner at the 12:08 mark. Earlier, Roddy had found Olson for a basket down low.
Other first-half highlights for Minnesota West included a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Cody Harris, a basket off a baseline spin move by Seitzinger, a driving layup by Ourada and a 3-pointer from the left corner by Brady Nissen — all of which helped the Bluejays maintain a 45-34 lead with 3:49 left on the clock.
“We did some good things, although we didn’t shoot particularly well at times,” Heckenlaible said. “We were able to create some stuff by being active and aggressive, defensively. Overall, it was a good group effort by our guys on both ends of the court.”
Morningside stayed afloat in the first half by hitting seven shots from beyond the arc. Eric Birkeness scored 14 of his team-high 15 points in the initial 20 minutes, burying four 3-pointers.
Alex Kurtenbach (14), Brock Giles (12) and Collin Schrader (10) also scored in double digits for the Mustangs.
Brown scored the first 10 points of the second half to increase Minnesota West’s lead to 63-44 by the 18:05 mark. He nailed a pair of 3-pointers, in addition to scoring off a feed from Roddy and knocking down a 15-foot pull-up jumper along the right baseline.
Brown then passed ahead to Alan Green for a fastbreak basket to make it 65-44. Green later scored on a drive to create the game’s largest spread at 77-55 with 11:16 showing.
Ourada and Taylor Lupton both had two buckets in the second half to help keep Minnesota West in command. Aquallo had a putback, as the Bluejays crashed the boards for several second-chance looks.
“We are not a real big team, but we did rebound fairly well,” Heckenlaible said. “It’s going to take a complete effort from all of our guys for us to continue to get better on the glass and rebound the ball effectively.”
Josh Williams was the other player to score for the Bluejays, sinking a pair of free throws in the first half.
Minnesota West is off until Nov. 27, when it hosts Dakota Wesleyan at Worthington High School.
MINNESOTA WEST 91, MORNINGSIDE JV 79
MORNINGSIDE JV: Birkeness 4-0-3-15, Giles 2-1-4-12, Larranaga 2-0-0-6, Karn 1-1-0-5, Wolfe 1-3-1-10, J. Christen 1-0-4-7, Crichton 0-3-2-8, Kurtenbach 0-7-0-14. TOTALS: 11-15-16-79.
MINNESOTA WEST (3-1): Roddy 2-2-0-10, Williams 0-0-2-2, Nissen 1-1-0-5, Green 0-3-0-6, Seitzinger 0-2-4-8, Ourada 0-3-2-8, Olson 0-2-1-5, Brown 4-3-0-18, Aquallo 0-3-2-8, Hopkins 0-5-1-11, Lupton 0-2-1-5, Harris 1-0-2-5. TOTALS: 8-26-15-91.
Morningside JV 44 35 — 79
Minnesota West 53 38 — 91