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College basketball: Minnesota West splits on home floor

WORTHINGTON -- The highways were slick, and the basketball nets seemed to be greased for two teams out of four Saturday afternoon at the Center for Health and Wellness.The Willmar-based men's and women's basketball squads were late in arriving to...

2253822+MN WEST Ridgewater Girls Breanna 4 web.jpg
TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West freshman Breanna Nelson (4) puts up a 3-point shot during the Lady Jays’ 97-63 win over Ridgewater on Saturday. Nelson poured in nine threes for a team-high 27 points.

WORTHINGTON - The highways were slick, and the basketball nets seemed to be greased for two teams out of four Saturday afternoon at the Center for Health and Wellness.
The Willmar-based men’s and women’s basketball squads were late in arriving to Worthington Saturday due to ice-packed roads. But the icy cold didn’t affect the Minnesota West Lady Jays in the first game of a Southern Division doubleheader, nor did it cool off a red-hot Ridgewater men’s team in the second game.
In the opener, a red-hot Lady Jays team rolled over its Ridgewater counterparts 97-63 aided by 17 3-point connections - including nine by 5-4 guard Breanna Nelson. In the men’s game that followed - led by the can’t-miss shooting of guards Akeem Oglesby and Joshua Adams - the Warriors had an answer for every Bluejay counter-move en route to a 100-77 victory.

Lady Jays 97, Ridgewater 63
All of Nelson’s scoring came on 3-point attempts. She made nine of 19 altogether and finished with a team-high 27 points.
Only a week earlier, she converted 10 3-point shots in a game in Brainerd - one short of the team record.
“Right away I started making ‘em,” the Edgerton product said moments after the Ridgewater blowout. “I made my first three, then I missed five. And Moz (head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka) just told me to keep making them.”
Nelson was asked if she ever thought about stepping over the 3-point line and trying a two. Actually, she did attempt two 2-point shots in the game. She missed them both.
“No, I can’t make those,” she said, smiling.
There were plenty of smiles to go around for the Lady Jays. Three days earlier they looked sluggish for much of their game against Western Tech (a 66-54 West victory), and they lost team leader Brooke Henning to injury besides. But on Saturday the offense came back with a vengeance.
Point guard Taylor Noid added 18 points to the Jays’ total, putting in three 3-pointers by herself. Tanner Gunnink once again showed dependability inside, scoring 15 points, and Becca Linder added 14 points. Dani Hermeling hit three 3-pointers for nine points. The other two 3’s were turned in by Brenna Kramer.
“We kind of knew coming in that they were going to sit in a 2-3 zone,” Hayenga-Hostikka said about the Warriors. “We probably had another 10 or 15 (3-point) looks that we didn’t take.”
The victory moved Minnesota West to 8-7 on the season and 2-0 in division play, dropping Ridgewater to 2-13 and 0-2. Hayenga-Hostikka was especially pleased that her team dished out 21 assists altogether.
“That’s my favorite stat in a game,” she said.

Nelson led the way with seven assists. Noid was credited with six and Hermeling five. West out-rebounded Ridgewater 50-40 and Gunnink had 17 rebounds for herself - including eight offensive.
Erica Melbie led Ridgewater with 28 points.
Ridgewater 18 24 42 63
Lady Jays 22 49 66 97
RIDGEWATER (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Stern 0-2-0-4, Durbin 0-1-0-2, Kubesh 1-2-0-7, Melbie 4-8-0-28, Selseth 0-6-2-14, Kienholz 0-4-0-8. Totals 5-23-2-63.
LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Hermeling 3-0-0-9, Nelson 9-0-0-27, Noid 3-3-3-18, Kramer 2-0-0-6, Gunnink 0-7-1-15, Linder 0-6-2-14, Abella 0-4-0-8. Totals 17-20-6-97.

Ridgewater 100, Bluejays 77
The Bluejays were determined to play sturdy defense against a very talented Ridgewater team that brought a 10-4 record into Worthington on Saturday. But the Warriors proved too hot to handle.
Oglesby, a 5-11 freshman from Statesboro, Ga., lit up the Jays early in the first half. Adams, a 5-11 freshman from Chicago, took over at a key point in the second half when it looked like West might be able to make a run. There seemed to be no stopping those two, and when they didn’t score, their teammates did plenty of damage themselves.
“They can shoot it. You cannot make a mistake defensively,” said West head coach Justin Heckenlaible. “At times they have five shooters on the floor.”
Oglesby finished with 30 points. Adams had 25.
The Bluejays received a solid outing from 6-6 Ellsworth freshman Justin Kruse, who exhibited toughness and resiliency around the basket and scored 16 points. Teammate Tyler Aquello, a 6-2 guard from Rapid City, S.D., heated up in the second half, finishing with five 3-pointers and 17 points. The Bluejays (3-9 overall) made 12 of their 3-point shots. But Ridgewater made 17.
Kruse, moments after the game, said his team didn’t accomplish its goal of “getting out on the (Ridgewater) shooters.” The gameplan, going in, he said, was to “stop No. 55 (Oglesby) and get on the shooters, keep them from cutting.”
But gameplans don’t always work, especially against an offensive wizard like Oglesby, who can drain the three or drive through traffic for a layup and make it all seem like a walk in the park.
“He’s hard to keep in front of. He’s a tough matchup for anybody,” Heckenlaible said. “We were a couple steps late, especially early-on.”
West got the early lead Saturday on a Mitch Prouty 3-pointer off the opening tip. But Oglesby, who scored 13 of the Warriors’ first 19 points, put the visitors in front to stay. West cut the lead to 25-24 and had the ball and a chance to take the lead before the half, but didn’t. Ridgewater led 48-34 at halftime, let West get within 61-57 on Aquallo’s fourth 3-pointer, but took over again with Adams leading the way.
In earlier games, Heckenlaible expressed satisfaction that the Bluejays got good looks at the basket, but he also said they needed to finish more of them. Against Ridgewater, they sometimes attempted low-percentage shots and many of them - as low-percentage shots are prone to do - missed.
But Heckenlaible didn’t entirely fault his offense. “When you get behind, that’s what happens. And everybody tries to do it by themselves. But actually, those same kind of shots, the other night, they were making,” he said.
Ridgewater 48 100
Bluejays 34 77
RIDGEWATER (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Perkins 0-1-0-2, Adams 4-6-1-25, Coleman 1-4-0-11, Fostervold 0-1-0-2, Dacres 2-0-0-6, Delaughter 0-2-0-4, Miller 1-1-1-6, Turnbull 4-1-0-14, Oglesby 5-7-1-30. Totals 17-23-3-100.
BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) - Yelverson 0-0-2-2, Aquallo 5-2-0-17, Z.Adams 2-2-2-12, Nealy 0-2-0-4, Prouty 4-0-0-12, Chester 1-1-1-6, Pennington 0-1-0-2, Kruse 0-8-0-16, Koerselman 0-2-0-4. Totals 12-18-5-77.

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Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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