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Minnesota West women win, move into Sunday title game

The Lady Jays' Emily Haubrich (13) drives to the hoop and fires a shot Saturday while pursued by Ridgewater center Heidi Sellman (34). (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- M’Kayla Mike said the Minnesota West women’s basketball team is just trying to enjoy the moment.

Mike and the Lady Jays weren’t overlooking a tough Ridgewater team on Saturday. Nor were they thinking about the potential national tournament berth that could be waiting after this weekend.

“We’re just trying to think in the moment and not think too far ahead,” said Mike, a freshman guard. “We can’t really plan the future, but we all have hopes for the future.”

If West was nervous coming into Saturday’s first round of the Region XIIIA tournament, it didn’t show.

MW jumped out to a 24-6 lead and never looked back in a 78-55 victory over the Warriors.

“Coach told us not to be nervous because we’re not going to play well if we act nervous. We just try to shake the jitters off and play like how we are,” Mike said. “We started off really well in the first quarter. In the second quarter, we slacked off a little bit. I think we could have played better in the second half.”

Because MW won the Southern Division, it was able to host this weekend’s region tournament. That provided a big boost, according to head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka.

“It’s huge,” she said. “You’re in your own gym, you have your own fans. You have a little bit of that comfort zone, which is gigantic. We’ve never had that in the playoffs. I like it. There was a ton of people here. How cool was that? It’s just a fun atmosphere.”

The Lady Jays will now face Rochester in the championship at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Yellowjackets defeated Anoka-Ramsey 92-76 on Saturday.

After a 3 from Mike, the Lady Jays led 44-23 at halftime.

“I mean, 24-6 in the first quarter, what more can you ask?” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “You think you might come out a little jittery or whatever. We kind of talked about that, trying to set the tone and trying to come out and play hard and play like we know how. I thought we did a really nice job of that. They are a good team. They are big and they match up with us very well.”

Although Ridgewater had the size to match against West, the Lady Jays controlled the boards with a 61-43 advantage. Katherin Ihnen had 17 of those rebounds, while Mike collected nine.

“We talked about that we had to win the battle of the boards,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I didn’t realize we had 61 rebounds. I’ll take that. It means we probably didn’t shoot super great either.”

West shot just less than 40 percent from the field, while holding the Warriors to 26 percent shooting as Minnesota West maintained a 64-39 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“I think we could have played better in the second half. If we played like we did in the first quarter, I think we would have probably got more points in,” Mike said. “They are a good team. You can’t expect to blow out every team. So we just tried to keep our distance between the scores.”

RW had a quick 6-0 run to start the fourth, but West answered by scoring the next seven to put away any doubts of a comeback.

“We had a couple times that it probably wasn’t beautiful,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I said there’s no such things as an easy win this time of year. But that’s all you care about, you just get to the next day.”

Ihnen had a game-high 22 points for MW, while Emily Haubrich had 16 points and eight assists, Andrea Hinkeldey had 13 points and Ashlynn Wabeke scored 12. Heidi Sellman scored 20 points to lead Ridgewater.

Ridgewater 6 23 39 55Lady Jays 24 44 64 78RIDGEWATER (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Adams 2-2-1-11, Oberg 0-2-2-6, Schmitz 0-1-0-2, Miller 0-2-0-4, Swenson 0-3-6-12. Sellman 0-7-6-20. Totals 2-17-15-55.LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Mike 1-1-0-5, Haubrich 1-6-1-16, Stanley 0-1-1-3, Hinkeldey 0-5-3-13, Wabeke 4-0-0-12, Van Roekel 0-1-5-7, Ihnen 0-9-4-22. Totals 6-23-14-78.