WORTHINGTON -- The shooting was a bit suspect, the defense was inconsistent, and the Minnesota West Community and Technical College women’s basketball team had no real answers Thursday against the visiting Dakota State Trojans JV Trojans.
But it was the Lady Jays’ first game of the season. Dakota State had been together since October. The Trojans were taller, smoother in their offense, and, well … Rome wasn’t built in a day.
“We dove in head-first,” said West head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “We found some things we need to work on. But we also found some bright spots. At times we moved the ball well, found the open person. I think we really played hard.”
Dakota State won the game, 75-51. But the score didn’t matter as much as the fact that the Jays got their feet wet.
“It was a lot of fun. Not playing together ever is a little tough. But we can take hold of that and get better,” said freshman Lady Jay Mallory Thorson, a Luverne High School graduate.
Thorson scored 10 points in the first half and was held scoreless in the second half. She had five second half rebounds, however, to finish with a team-high eight. She led the team with five assists as well.
Hayenga-Hostikka explained before the season got under way that to win, the Lady Jays will need to shoot well from the outside. They’re not strong in the post like they’ve been in recent years.
On Thursday, they converted just 21 of 60 field goals for 35 percent. They were 6-for-22 from 3-point range. The taller Trojans out-rebounded West 44-37 and took advantage of 30 turnovers while making just 22 of their own.
The Jays couldn’t bank on their outside shooting like they’d hoped. Dakota State did a better job from outside, especially in the first half. The Trojans also penetrated the West defense for several inside baskets.
Five Dakota State players scored in double figures, with McKenzie Hermanson and Miakken Vincent leading the way with 17 apiece. Grace Stenieke had 13 points. Morgan Huber and Tishara Hardy both had 10. Stenieke, a 5-11 freshman from Hartford, S.D., and Miedema each had nine rebounds.
Hunter Garcia, a 5-4 freshman guard from Albuquerque, N.M., paced Minnesota West with 15 points, scoring nine in the second half.
After the game, Thorson said the Jays didn’t crash the boards and box out as well as they can. But she was happy the team showed it had speed in the transition game.
Hayenga-Hostikka said the defense was porous enough, at times, where she had to “do some things that we didn’t even try in practice,” like switching from man-to-man into a matchup zone and then into a double-post.
“The first time out is very hard. We went into this with zero scrimmages, no alumni games,” she said.
The Lady Jays were scheduled to be on the road Friday (Jan. 22) against Mount Marty JV for a 6 p.m. contest.