WORTHINGTON - One victory nearly set a record, while the other might be setting a trend.
The Minnesota West basketball teams swept a doubleheader from the Itasca CC Vikings Saturday at Worthington’s Center for Health and Wellness, and each victory was significant. The Lady Jays came within a few points of establishing a new single-game scoring mark with a 112-51 triumph, while for the second night in a row the Bluejays received clutch play by 6-foot-8 sophomore center Emmanuel Akot and earned a 72-63 victory over the visiting Vikes.
The Lady Jays improved to 2-6 overall, while the Bluejays are 5-1.
Lady Jays 112, Itasca 51
Superb sophomore guard Lexie Ramsey had 20 points and 10 assists and freshman Natasha Diaz contributed a career-high 17 points off the bench as Minnesota West romped to victory.
The Lady Jays scored 71 second-half points and finished just two shy of the school-record 114 posted in a 1992 victory over Ridgewater. Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka was a star guard on that ’92 team and is now the Lady Jays’ head coach. She said Saturday’s victory, though it came over a struggling Itasca club that is 1-4, averaging just 45 ppg and played the second half with but six healthy players, was a feel-good moment for her squad.
“When you’re 1-6 you can find a lot of positives from a game like this,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Maybe this will jump-start us a little bit.”
Excellent defensive pressure and a noticeable edge in conditioning and team speed helped the Lady Jays dominate the second half. Though it turned into a layup drill for West, which expanded a nine-point halftime lead by scoring the first 20 markers of the third quarter, Hayenga-Hostikka said improved outside shooting was a positive takeaway. In the last 20 minutes the Lady Jays were 31-for-43 from the field, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.
“We haven’t really shot well from the perimeter in any of our games, but we did in the second half,” she said. “When you play good defense it creates good offense. And then sometimes you relax and your shots fall. Also a big thing was we had better shot selection. We made that extra pass where we have not done that.”
Star sophomore Emily Shaffer had 13 points and freshman guard Emily Wilke added 10 for the Lady Jays, as 12 of the 13 who played hit the scoring column. Minnesota West went on a 25-0 run in the fourth quarter against the overmatched Vikings, who received six 3-pointers and 20 points overall from Maddy Shapard.
The Lady Jays are back at the Center for Health and Wellness Tuesday night to meet Bethany College’s junior varsity.
Itasca 18 31 45 51
Minnesota West 21 41 79 112
ITASCA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Murray 0-4-6-14, McCartney 0-1-1-3, Shapard 6-0-2-20, Cheney 0-3-0-6, Frazier 2-1-0-8. Totals: 8-9-9-51.
LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Othow 0-3-2-8, Cassou 2-1-0-8, Brandt 0-1-3-5, Ramsey 2-7-0-20, Shaffer 1-4-2-13, Diaz 2-5-1-17, Rivera 0-3-0-6, Bernazeau 1-3-0-9, Albers 0-2-0-4, Suttle 0-2-0-4, Wilke 2-1-0-8, Goetzinger 0-4-2-10. Totals: 10-36-10-112.
Blue Jays 72, Itasca 63
On Friday, the long-armed Emannuel Akot had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in a victory over Northland.
The 6-8 former Sioux Falls Washington star struck on Saturday for 10 points, 11 boards and three more blocks. Three of his baskets and one of the blocks came during West’s 10-0 run early in the second half when it was still anyone’s game.
“It felt good because my teammates trusted me and got me the ball,” Akot said. “I try to work really hard crashing the boards and playing defense so it was nice for my teammates to get me the ball.”
Minnesota West used balanced scoring and a 17-4 edge at the foul line to turn back the talented Itasca club, which fell to 4-2.
Sophomore guard Jaimon Cheek had 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists in a fine all-around performance.
“Jaimon is a really good player, man,” said Akot. “He’s gotten so much better. And I’m happy for him.”
Sophomore guard Christopher Morales had 12 points and four assists, and freshman guard Traelius Robinson contributed 10 points. Though Itasca led only once in the game, at 12-10, the Vikings were never really out of it and were within six with three minutes to play. Cheek’s two free throws following his offensive rebound and a nice drive by Morales helped the Bluejays seal the deal.
“It was a nice victory,” said West head coach Taylor Lupton. “We’re going to try to keep growing as a team every day.”
For Itasca, Zykeith Shider and AJ Pinkney Jr., scored 12 points apiece. Malik Edwards and Tyree Myles each scored 11.
The Jays travel to Vermilion and Mesabi Range next weekend.