College basketball: Chol keeps his cool
AARON HAGEN Daily Globe WORTHINGTON -- It was two completely different games Friday night at Minnesota West. But in the end, the results were the same. The Minnesota West women's basketball team ran away from Dordt JV 73-54 before the Bluejay men...
WORTHINGTON -- It was two completely different games Friday night at Minnesota West.
But in the end, the results were the same.
The Minnesota West women's basketball team ran away from Dordt JV 73-54 before the Bluejay men earned a close victory over Fond du Lac 85-81.
Men Kuol Chol had just barely stepped out of the locker room before he was mobbed.
Just as he opened the door, he was surrounded by fans waiting to take a picture with the 6-foot-5-inch freshman on Minnesota West’s men’s basketball team.
And they couldn’t be blamed after he had scored eight points in the final 1 minute, 40 seconds and came up with a key defensive steal to secure the Bluejay victory.
“I didn’t want to lose against those dudes,” Chol said. “That’s all that was in my mind.”
For MW, it was the second victory in a row after a win against Hibbing in its last game.
“All of the credit goes to the players for rallying for coming back off a really rough start and now we have signs of life,” MW head coach Kris Babler said. “I’ve been saying since Day 1, this is a super talented group. We just have to figure stuff out. It’s coming for them.”
MW had an early lead in the game and had as much as a 12-point advantage (34-22) in the first half. However, Fond du Lac started to battle back in the second half.
“We knew we were going to win, but we were just kind of going through the motions,” Chol said. “We were moving the ball. But then we kind of got away from that, that’s why they started coming back. But we got back into team basketball.”
With 11:40 left in the game, the Thunder hit a triple to tie the game at 57-all. The teams traded points back and forth until the final three minutes.
After a free throw by MW that tied the score at 75, FDL went on a quick 5-0 run to lead 80-75.
That’s when Chol started to take control.
He hit two free throws to bring the Bluejays within three, and then made two more to cut the deficit to one.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Chol said. “We wanted to send them back home. We went all the way nine hours and lost to Rainy River. We wanted to send somebody else back home.”
After a free throw by FDL, Chol (15 points) converted on a drive to the hoop to tie the score. With 31 seconds remaining, he stepped to the line and made two free throws to give MW an 83-81 advantage. On the ensuing possession, he came up with the biggest defensive stop of the night.
As the Thunder were advancing up the court, Chol stripped the ball and passed ahead to Jayden Hampton (21 points), who was fouled. Hampton made both shots to seal the four-point victory.
“Jayden pressured them good,” Chol said. “The dude didn’t see me on the back side. We had 10 seconds left, so the worst they could do was shoot a 3.”
MW will look to make it three in a row today at home against Central Lakes.
“This is feeling better, I hate losing,” Chol said. “We’ve been playing a lot better now. In practices, we’ve been more focused and our coaches are getting us locked in. All our guys want to win. We want to try to bring a winning tradition here. We got this W, we have to forget about it and move on to the next one.”
Fond du Lac 40 81Minnesota West 48 85FOND DU LAC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Willingham 0-5-6-16, Braxton 1-1-5-10, Williams 0-4-0-8. Di. Johnson 2-2-0-10, Murphy 1-1-0-5, McGee 0-3-1-7, Hohamud 2-0-0-6, De. Johnson 0-1-5-8, Andersen-Caradine 0-1-3-5, Thirdkill 0-3-0-6. Totals 6-21-21-81.MINNESOTA WEST (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Chol 2-1-7-15, Harcula 1-2-2-9, Hampton 3-1-10-21, Ochothow 1-0-0-3, Snelling 0-0-1-1, Hassenbeck 0-1-1-3, Joseph 2-5-0-16, Ramos 0-0-3-3, Carter 0-0-1-1, Waugh 1-4-2-13. Totals 10-14-27-85. Women If anything rattled Andrew Hinkeldey and the Lady Jays, they didn’t show it on the court.
Despite playing a different opponent than what was originally scheduled and with tip off 45 minutes late, Hinkeldey and her team didn’t seem fazed.
“We were supposed to play a different team and then we found out we’re playing Dordt again which we got excited for to give us a second chance to do better,” she said. “They had bus trouble so we were all warmed up and then we had to sit for a half an hour and wait. When we came back out, we had to get back in the mode. Once we started, it was a little rough, but then we got going and things started falling and piecing together. It just took off from there.”
Hinkeldey scored off the game’s opening tip less than five seconds in and proceeded to score the next four points as MW was out to a 6-0 lead.
“I thought when I came out, it’s a matter of I couldn’t hit anything when I was warming up,” Hinkeldey said. “We went back in at seven minutes to talk about things and it was a matter of putting my mind to it that we’re going to do good, we’re going to have to work hard and it has to be a team effort.”
Dordt filled in at the last minute, and then was delayed after bus trouble, pushing the game’s start back.
“I don’t think that affected it,” said Dordt’s Hope Veldkamp, who played her high school basketball at Southwest Christian. “We didn’t have practice the last couple of days, so maybe that affected it more. Our defense, we had a little trouble helping each other out. We just need to communicate a little better and not let them get the easy buckets.”
MW was able to take advantage inside as Katherin Ihnen finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, Hinkeldey had 17 points and eight rebounds and Tanner Gunnink finished with 10 points.
“I was just telling them in there, who do you stop?,” MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said. “When we went to the rotation where we had all three of them in there at a time, it’s so much fun. We’re tough to guard. All three of them are very similar yet different in ways. I’ll take them posting up against anybody.”
Taylor Noid had nine points and six rebounds. But the speedy point guard was the offense’s main facilitator as she dished out 10 of the team’s 22 assists.
“She does a really nice job of feeding it into us,” Hinkeldey said. “We try to get her to take points, but she’s like, ‘I’d rather pass it.’ Everybody plays a part in everything. Assists are good.”
MW slowly built its lead and had a 17-14 advantage after the first quarter, 40-29 at halftime and 54-41 after three. The Lady Jays (7-1) never trailed after the first quarter and had as much as a 19-point advantage late in the game.
“It was a little bit of a mental challenge with not knowing if we are playing tonight then changing opponents, then we had to sit for 40 minutes,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “So mentally, that was a hard thing for us, but I thought we did a nice job defensively and offensively.”
The Lady Jays are at home against Central Lakes today.
“It’s going to be hard coming back with tired legs, but we’ll be able to do it, we just have to put our minds to it,” Hinkeldey said.
Dordt JV 14 29 41 54Minnesota West 17 40 54 73DORDT JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Olsen 1-0-0-3, Veldkamp 0-2-0-4, Kooiker 0-1-0-2, Dean 0-0-3-3, Cunard 2-3-0-12, Vos 0-2-2-6, Polacek 0-2-0-4, Wolterstorff 2-6-2-20. Totals 5-16-7-54.MINNESOTA WEST (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Noid 0-3-3-9, Haubrich 2-0-1-7, Kramer 0-2-0-4, Barnett 0-1-0-2, Gunnink 0-5-0-10, Hinkeldey 0-8-1-17, Wabeke 2-0-0-6, Ihnen 0-6-6-18. Totals 4-25-11-73.