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College basketball: Gehl hits her 1,000th point, Lady Jays struggle to three point win

WORTHINGTON — On a day where Tiffany Gehl scored her 1,000th point, the mood in the Minnesota West Lady Jays locker room Saturday was one of relief. The Jays did not bring their best game with them against Southern Division rival Ridgewater College, but they were able to escape with a 68-65 victory.

By making their free throws inside the final minute and a half, the Lady Jays were able to avoid an unexpected setback on their home floor at the Center for Health and Wellness. On an afternoon where nothing came easy, Gehl — a 5-11 sophomore from Fulda — led West with 22 points.

Gehl did not score 1,000 points during her high school career, but she needed just six points on Saturday to accomplish the feat in college. The fact that she’s now done it in two years at Minnesota West is something that she finds hard to fathom.

“It wasn’t even in my mind before the season — not at all,” she said, looking back to before her college career began. “My mom was worried that I wouldn’t even start. She said, ‘Now, Tiffany, don’t be surprised if you don’t get to start in your freshman year.’”

Such thoughts seem unbelievable today. In her sophomore season, Gehl has been named the Southern Division Player of the Week four times already, and her nifty power moves around the basket make her appear to be a natural point producer.

On Saturday, however, Gehl said the credit doesn’t belong to her. It belongs, instead, to her high school and college coaches, and especially to her present-day supporting cast.

“I totally give that to my teammates. They totally know how and when to get me the ball. They give me all the great passes when I make my cuts,” she said.

Throughout most of Saturday, however, all the Lady Jays appeared sluggish against a determined and physical Warriors team. It was at the free throw line, late, when they finally began to take control.

With the score tied 58-58, West’s Kristen Andersen made a nice one-handed lay-in with 2:11 remaining to give her team a 60-58 lead. After Ridgewater knotted it at 60-60, Gehl made two free throws to make it 62-60 with 1:17 to go. Ridgewater answered again, but West answered right back at 51.3 as Andersen made two more charity tosses.

A traveling violation ruined Ridgewater’s chance at a quick recovery, and Lindsey Drooger hit a pair of free throws for West with 29.6 seconds remaining to up the margin to 66-62. Ridgewater’s Jessie Kalenberg, fouled on a three-point try with 11.3 left, made all three of her free throws to bring the Warriors within a point. But the Lady Jays again went to the line. Andersen, with 8.1 seconds on the clock, sank two free throws to make the score 68-65. Ridgewater was unable to get off another shot.

Saturday’s victory moved Minnesota West to 18-4 overall and 8-1 in the Southern Division. Ridgewater is 12-7 and 5-3.

“We made a lot of work out of it, that’s for sure. But they’re a nice team. They’re right behind us (in the division),” said West head coach Mike Fury. “Early in the game, we had so many good looks, we just didn’t convert ‘em. So we didn’t get any momentum, and they stayed with us.”

Andersen scored 16 points in the Jays’ effort. Drooger added 13 and Brittney Hermeling 10. Andersen led the team with 10 rebounds and Bridget Kramer handed out eight assists.

Rachel Ampe scored 17 points to lead Ridgewater.

Ridgewater 28 65

Lady Jays 30 68

RIDGEWATER (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Kalenberg 1-2-6-13, Schumacher 0-2-0-4, Jensen 0-1-0-2, Kramer 0-7-0-14, Hein 0-0-0-0, Sorenson 0-4-2-10, Wuertz 1-1-0-5, Ampe 0-7-3-17. Totals 2-24-11-65.

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Hermeling 2-1-2-10, Kramer 0-1-1-3, Kemper 0-1-2-4, Gehl 2-4-8-22, Drooger 1-4-2-13, Andersen 0-5-6-16, Tish 0-0-0-0. Totals 5-16-21-68.

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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