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Women's basketball: Lady Jays are hard to hold

Minnesota West Lady Jay Brittney Hermeling (2) drives to the basket for a shot during Wednesday night’s women’s basketball game in Worthington. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — It is becoming almost commonplace nowadays for the Minnesota West Lady Jays to flirt with triple figures.

The hundred-point mark was once again a very real possibility Wednesday night as the homestanding Jays defeated Minnesota State-Fergus Falls 98-55 to improve to 10-3 on the winter campaign. More importantly, though, the game was the Southern Division opener for both teams, and Minnesota West came through in flying colors.

Five West players scored in double figures, led by 5-11 sophomore forward Tiffany Gehl with 32.

Gehl was consistent throughout, scoring 16 of her points in the first half as the home team worked out to a 50-30 lead at intermission. All told, she hit nine field goals — many of them layups — and 14 of 16 free throws.

What’s particularly impressive about Gehl, a Fulda product, is that when she’s on the floor she never seems to rest for a moment. She is always moving, and she moves well. Her speed to the basket is deceptive. With two of her long strides she can be upon the basket for a layup from the free throw line, and rare is the time she doesn’t get off a good shot when she isn’t fouled.

Minnesota West head coach Mike Fury is one of Gehl’s admirers. “She just runs the floor so well. And she just never lets up. And we’re finding her real well,” Fury said after Wednesday’s game. “That one layup she had in the first half, she’s going 100 miles per hour, and she just put it in there. She’s a tough matchup.”

“That’s one of my strengths, I think, that I don’t get tired so easily. And my team, they know what to look for,” Gehl said.

They certainly knew what to look for Wednesday night. Although the Lady Jays are developing a reputation for fast-breaking, they regularly scored against the Spartans by being deliberate.

“We’re not afraid to set up the offense, too, in the half court,” Gehl said.

Brittney Hermeling had 11 assists in the game and teammates Lindsey Drooger and Kristen Anderson had four apiece.

“We had 21 assists (as a team),” Fury gushed. “That’s cudos for looking for each other and helping each other out.”

Minnesota West led 10-0 out of the chute and forced Fergus Falls into five turnovers in the game’s first three minutes.

“We got off to such a great start, then we built that big lead. Then we went into a little bit of a lull, but we came out great guns to begin the second half,” Fury said.

Armed with their 20-point halftime advantage, the Lady Jays increased it on their very first possession of the second half when Drooger tallied two on a back-door layup. The Spartans scored just five second half points in the first six-plus minutes as their rivals moved out to a 68-35 lead.

If the Jays had wanted to, they could have easily reached triple figures by game’s end. The fans wanted it. But it just wasn’t necessary.

Adding to Gehl’s 32 points was Drooger with 19. Drooger, a 6-0 sophomore from Edgerton, hit on three of West’s six three-point shots, and two of them were at the top of the key near NBA range.

Andersen scored 13 points while Hermeling had 11 and Bridget Kramer 10.

The Lady Jays’ next action is at home Saturday (1 p.m.) against Western Tech.

Fergus Falls 30 55

Lady Jays 50 98

FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Moenkedick 1-3-3-12, Ripplinger 0-1-0-2, Lura 0-0-0-0, Pratt 0-2-5-9, Johnson 1-2-2-9, Zastrow 0-5-2-12, O’Neal 1-4-0-11. Totals 3-17-12-55.

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Hermeling 1-2-4-11, Kramer 0-4-2-10, Kemper 0-2-0-4, Gehl 0-9-14-32, Drooger 3-4-2-19, Dohlmann 1-1-0-5, Andersen 1-3-4-13, Tish 0-2-0-4. Totals 6-27-26-98.

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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