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MW basketball: Accurate shooting leads Lady Jays to victory

By Aaron Hagen

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Tanner Gunnink knew in warmups that Saturday was going to be a good day.

A sophomore on Minnesota West’s women’s basketball team, Gunnink turned out to be right.

Gunnink had 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead West to a 107-56 victory over Western Wisconsin Tech.

“I felt awesome today,” Gunnink said. “There was just something and I just felt on. Sometimes when you’re warming up, you’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ But today I just felt on.”

She wasn’t the only Lady Jay to be on as the team shot 54 percent from the field, led by Gunnink, who was 12-for-13 shooting. That was after missing her first shot of the game.

“After that I was like, ‘OK Tanner, collect yourself, it’s fine. First shot of the game, forget it,’” Gunnink said. “I forgot it and just played.”

And while Gunnink was dominating on the inside, teammate Ashlynn Wabeke was raining 3s.

“I was in a shooter’s slump and I couldn’t get out of it,” Wabeke said. “After the first one went in, I was like, ‘I feel it tonight.’ It looked like an ocean. It was a lot of fun tonight.”

Wabeke was 8-for-14 shooting from behind the arc and finished with 26 points.

“We played amazing,” Wabeke said. “It’s probably the best game we’ve ever played. We were finding the open person, we had good passes, and knocking down shots. It all came together.”

The Lady Jays (16-5, 5-3) were coming off an overtime loss at Fergus Falls, and were looking to get back on the right track.

“It was a tough one. It almost was heartbreaking. We were not expecting that at all,” Gunnink said. “I think that’s why we came out so strong. We were like, ‘We can play way better than we played against Fergus.’ So we came out strong, we had to. (Head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka) always tells us the first five minutes is so important. I feel like we did well the first five minutes.”

West fell behind 6-2 early in the game, but a pair of 3s from Wabeke as part of a 10-0 run gave MW a lead it would never relinquish.

“I thought we did a great job of finding the open person and we made the extra pass,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I thought we dished it inside pretty well. I think this was just a great team effort. We hit some outside shots and then we pounded it inside. I felt like we could kind of get whatever shot we wanted, especially in the second half. Hopefully this is a kick start here into the stretch. We have about three weeks of huge basketball left, we just have to keep playing like this.”

After leading by 10 after the first quarter, Gunnink opened the second with four quick points.

“I said to her, ‘That’s what I expect of you all the time,’” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Just be aggressive and finish. She was posting up like a maniac in there. We need her to do that. I thought that was a big game for Tanner. Hopefully that gives her some confidence to play like that all the time. I always think she’s capable of dominating like that.”

The Lady Jays took a 48-29 lead into halftime.

Out of the break, MW kept increasing the lead. After scoring 11 points in the first half, Wabeke made three 3-pointers in the third quarter as West had a 79-45 advantage.

“It kind of surprised me that they didn’t come out hard in the second half,” Wabeke said. “I thought they were going to close out a lot harder so my driving game would have to be there. But it really wasn’t, so I just kept going.”

Katherin Ihnen had 18 points and 10 rebounds for West, while Andrea Hinkeldey had 13 points and seven rebounds. Emily Haubrich added 10 points and six assists as every player scored for MW.

Minnesota West hosts Ridgewater on Wednesday before a matchup with league-leading Anoka-Ramsey on Saturday.

“It was fun to actually start running our plays and do what we were supposed to,” Wabeke said. “Coming off Fergus, we didn’t run our plays very well. It was kind of a good thing. I think it’s going to push us a lot harder. We want to get Anoka-Ramsey, that was a tough loss. We have Ridgewater on Wednesday and that will be good.”

Western Tech 15 29 45 56Minnesota West 25 48 107
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