Lady Jays hit playoffs on a high

Utilizing aggressive man-to-man defensive pressure throughout Saturday afternoon's game, the Minnesota West Lady Jays closed out the regular season with a 55-44 victory over Fergus Falls.

Utilizing aggressive man-to-man defensive pressure throughout Saturday afternoon's game, the Minnesota West Lady Jays closed out the regular season with a 55-44 victory over Fergus Falls.

"This was a nice victory for us," Lady Jays head coach Mike Fury said. "We played outstanding defense, holding them to 22 points in each half, and it's good to enter the playoffs with a victory."

Minnesota West (5-5 MCCC, 12-14 overall) finishes in fourth place in the Southern Division, and will play in the state tournament, which starts on Friday.

The Lady Jays will play Itasca, the top-seeded team from the Northern Division, at Ridgewater Community College in Willmar.

On Saturday, the Lady Jays jumped out to an early 8-0 lead four minutes into the contest, as Krista Beek knocked down a pair of baseline jumpers to go with two free throws to ignite the offense.


Meanwhile, West's defense was creating problems for Fergus Falls, as the Lady Jays employed full-court, man-to-man pressure, looking to jump off and trap the Lady Spartans at every opportunity they could.

However, the Lady Spartans, who also caused problems for West with their 1-3-1, half-court zone defense, were able to pull within two points (12-10) with 13:45 showing on the first-half clock, as Jessie Asuma drilled a pair of three-pointers and an elbow jumper to key Fergus Falls.

But that would be as close as the Lady Spartans would get the rest of the game, as West's Brittney Williams responded with a trey of her own, and Laura Bents converted two put-back baskets to help make it 22-15 with 5:04 to go in the period.

"I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards on both ends," Fury said. "They didn't get very many second chances, but we were able to get a few, and we converted on them"

Leading 27-22 to start the second half, the Lady Jays went on a 10-3 run over the first six minutes of the frame to go up by 12 (37-25), their largest cushion of the game.

Beek once again engineered the surge for the Lady Jays, as she found Jitara Brame with a beautiful pass in transition for a lay-up, and then followed with a pull-up jumper.

Brame then returned the favor, hitting Beek with a similar pass that had the same result (a lay-up) on the break to cap West's spurt with 13:40 remaining in the game.

Fergus Falls' Jennifer Hodge then drained back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to 37-31, and the Lady Spartans looked poised to get back in it.


They cut the lead to five on three separate occasions, but could never get any closer, as Beek and company made sure West would earn the victory by making clutch plays down the stretch.

A key stat of the game was found at the free-throw line, where the Lady Jays were 16-for-24, while Fergus Falls was just 6-for-14.

The Lady Jays also did a better job of handling the ball in the second half, something that Fury was pleased with.

"In the second half, we did a much better job of penetrating, taking care of the ball, making solid passes, and hitting open shots," he said. "That's going to be the key, especially taking care of the basketball, as we head to the state tournament."

Beek finished with 23 points to lead all scorers, while Bents and Katie Dekker each tallied 12 points for the Lady Jays.

Asuma totaled 15 points for Fergus Falls (2-8, 8-18), which ends its season.

Fergus Falls 22 22 -- 44

Minnesota West 27 28 -- 55


FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Asuma 3-3-0-15, Wunderlich 1-2-1-8, Wigdahl 0-1-0-2, Hodge 2-0-1-7, Martin 0-1-0-2, Ohren 0-3-0-6, Luther 0-0-2-2, Robinson 0-0-2-2. Totals: 6-10-6-44.

MINNESOTA WEST (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Brame 0-1-1-3, Dekker 0-4-4-12, Jansen 0-1-0-2, Williams 1-0-0-3, Bents 0-5-2-12, Beek 0-7-9-23. Totals: 1-18-16-55.

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