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College basketball: Lady Jays win nailbiter; Bluejays lose one

Emma Woelber (22) of the Lady Jays drives on Northwestern's Rachel Mercer (33). (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 2
Minnesota West Alex Brown (in white) leans back to make a two point shot against Northwestern Raiders Joey Horstman.(Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- Fans of Minnesota West Community and Technical College basketball couldn’t have asked for two more exciting season openers than Friday night’s matchups with Northwestern JV. The Lady Jays used sheer grit to edge the Red Raiders 79-76 at the Center for Health and Wellness, and in the nightcap the men showed off their speed and aggressiveness in an 84-81 loss -- after leading by 15 points early in the second half.

The two games were part of a four-game set of the 14th annual Sanford Worthington Basketball Classic. In the first two contests Friday, Dordt JV defeated Riverland 97-56 in women’s play and Riverland topped Dordt JV 85-78 on the men’s side.

Today at noon, the Northwestern and Riverland women’s teams compete, and at 2 p.m. the same two schools meet for the men’s game. Minnesota West will play Dordt JV at 4 p.m. (women) and 6 p.m. (men).

Lady Jays 79, NW 76

The host Lady Jays trailed for most of Friday’s game, but Ashlynn Wabeke’s 3-point shot to start the fourth quarter brought them within six points, and slowly but surely the Jays fought back. Another Wabeke 3-pointer cut Northwestern’s lead to 71-69 and it was anybody’s game at that point.

Minnesota West finally took the lead at the 1:02 mark when a long pass from Emily Haubrich found Andrea Hinkeldey under the net for a contested layup. She was fouled, and her free throw gave MW a 75-74 advantage. Northwestern scored next, but the Jays re-took the lead on two Hinkeldey free throws with 24.4 seconds remaining.

Northwestern had the ball and a chance to win in the final 24 seconds, but Haubrich made a steal on an in-bounds pass in the final 10 seconds, and she was fouled with 3.8 seconds left. Her two free throws sealed the deal.

“That’s just a fun way to start out the season, I guess,” said Minnesota West head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “We just kind of hung in there. We had some bad defensive lapses from time to time. But I’m proud of the effort.”

The Lady Jays were sluggish early, but they played with pluck and tenacity. Their 3-point field goal shooting never really got going -- they converted just 1 of 5 in the first half compared to the Raiders’ 5 of 16.

But when their inside game got going, they were able to keep Northwestern from getting too far in front.

Sophomore 5-11 post Katherin Ihnen scored 13 points in the first half, and she added 19 in the second half to finish with a game-high 32 points. Hinkeldey finished with 19.

“I felt like we needed to pound the ball inside to Katherin and Andrea. I thought they (Northwestern) might not be able to match up with us inside,” said Hayenga-Hostikka.

Minnesota West also held onto the ball better in the second half. The Jays finished the game with 12 turnovers, but only two of them occurred after halftime.

Rachel Mercer, who converted six 3-pointers, led Northwestern with 25 points.

Northwestern JV 20 40 63 76Lady Jays 14 39 54 79NORTHWESTERN JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Hunwardsen 0-6-5-17, Sattler 3-0-0-9, Keck 1-5-2-15, Coulter 0-2-0-4, Mercer 6-3-1-25, Anderson 0-1-0-2, Groen 0-2-0-4. Totals 10-19-8-76.LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Mike 0-0-0-0, Haubrich 1-2-4-9, Stanley 0-0-0-0, Woelber 1-0-0-3, Hinkeldey 0-4-11-19, Wabeke 2-2-0-10, Van Roekel 0-1-4-6, Ihnen 0-15-2-32. Totals 4-23-21-79.NW 84, Bluejays 81

For most of the game, it looked as if Minnesota West was going to have every answer it needed against the Red Raiders. The Bluejays were quicker, more athletic. They pressured the Raiders on defense and found every which way to get their shots to go down.

But the Raiders managed to slow down the Jays in the second half. It was their zone defense that did it, said first-year West head coach Aaron Poor Bear.

“Once we saw the zone, we kind of went stagnant. We controlled the game on defense. We made them do what we wanted to do,” he said. But, he added, the Bluejays tried to dribble the ball against the zone in the second half, instead of passing.

“We have a zone offense. And we just didn’t do it. But it’s something we can learn to do,” Poor Bear said.

Minnesota West’s pressure defense, ball-hawking abilities and a deep offensive lineup that beat the Red Raiders 1-on-1 to the basket on numerous occasions built up a 47-36 halftime lead. It ballooned to 53-38 early in the second half before the Raiders slowly inched back into the game.

A steal and a layup by Joey Horstman brought Northwestern JV into an 81-81 tie with 45.7 seconds remaining. With 27.7 seconds to go, a free throw gave Northwestern an 82-81 lead. On their next possession, the Bluejays missed two shots and fouled Kroll with 4.6 seconds remaining. He made both. The Jays crossed midcourt with a final chance for a 3-point try, but they were unable to get off a shot.

Alex Preston, a freshman guard from Prior Lake, led Minnesota West with 18 points. Alex Brown added 15 while Ki’Shawn Syph had 11 and Angel Arroyo 10.

Horstman finished with 21 for Northwestern JV.

Northwestern JV 36 84Bluejays 47 81NORTHWESTERN JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Stoltz 0-1-0-2, TeSlaa 0-2-0-4, Kroll 2-1-4-12, Horstman 5-2-2-21, Kaemingk 1-4-2-13, Sterk 1-0-8-11, Van Dyke 0-5-1-11, Dueker 0-2-3-8. Totals 10-17-20-84.BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Chol 0-1-3-5, Pickford 1-1-4-9, Hudson 0-3-0-6, Brown 2-4-1-15, Colson 0-1-2-4, Snelling 1-0-0-3, Syph 1-4-0-11, Arroyo 0-2-6-10, Preston 5-1-1-18. Totals 10-17-17-81.
Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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