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Minnesota West women's basketball: Four sophomores to lead Lady Jays

Minnesota West veteran women's basketball players for 2017-18 include (foreground) Katherin Ihnen, (from left) Ashlynn Wabeke, Andrea Hinkeldey and Emily Haubrich. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka thinks she has a pretty good team this season.

And the head women’s basketball coach at Minnesota West told her players as much.

“We just had a team meeting in there and I said, ‘I don’t think you guys know how good we could be,’” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We have to stay healthy. When you have eight (players), that’s going to make all the difference. But I’m excited. I think we have shooters, I think we have posts and I think we’ll be OK.”

Hayenga-Hostikka has a lot of reasons to be optimistic this season as she returns four sophomores who saw extensive playing time last season.

“When you look at it, those four all started at some point in the season,” the coach said. “They all four played huge minutes. They were probably four of our five leading scorers. That’s not bad to get four of your top scorers back. Very rarely do you have four of your best scorers coming back.”

The team will be led by the inside presence of sophomores Andrea Hinkeldey and Katherin Ihnen. The Lady Jays will also have shooters with returners Emily Haubrich and Ashlynn Wabeke.

Throw in first-year players Emma Woelber, Avery Van Roekel, M’Kayla Mike and Alex Stanley and MW will have a good combination of inside and outside.

“Look at Andrea and Katherin, in this league, they are about as good as it gets,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We had the three-headed monster with Tanner (Gunnink) last year. I think we have a little bit of that with Avery. I think when I have those three in, Avery is going to get a guard on her and she’s a tough post up. She can post up hard. One of those is going to have a mismatch.”

One hole that will be tough to replace will be at point guard as Taylor Noid graduated. That will be filled with a combination of Mike, Woelber and Haubrich.

“We have a huge hole. Emily is going to handle some of that, but M’Kayla Mike, we’re working her at the point guard, so she’ll probably fill in a lot,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Emily does a good job of handling the ball and she’ll have to do it for minutes at a time, but her best option is to be able to sprint the wing and run it from the wing. I think Emma is going to be able to take over some of the point guard duties.”

West has played in a couple of scrimmages but were without Hinkeldey, Ihnen and Woelber as they were finishing up the volleyball season.

“My three volleyball players didn’t get to play in any of the scrimmages, so they are really going to be thrown in the fire,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Their first time on the court is going to be game time.”

The Lady Jays won’t have to wait much longer to take the court as they open up at home with the Sanford Classic Friday and Saturday.

“I think the Sanford Classic is just such a fun weekend,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We’re at home, it’s a nice fundraiser, you usually get really good crowds with the local teams coming in. I can’t wait. I’m so ready to play a game.”

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