Looking good: Lady Jays play fine all-around game in win over nationally-ranked St. Cloud Tech
“We kept saying in the pre-season (pre-conference), getting your butt kicked could pay off.”
WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West Lady Jays picked a perfect time to play a strong all-round basketball game with St. Cloud Tech Saturday afternoon at the Center for Health and Wellness in Worthington.
Covid issues are cropping up all over the Minnesota community college circuit. It forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled Tech-Bluejays men’s game at West, and it has already forced the postponement of the Lady Jays’ Wednesday home game against MState-Fergus Falls. That means that the West women have several more days to contemplate Saturday’s 70-54 victory over an excellent St. Cloud Tech rival -- not that they necessarily want the extra time off.
“I want to play right now. We’re playing well. Last thing I want is to sit,” said Lady Jays head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka.
St. Cloud Tech entered the West gymnasium Saturday with a 7-1 overall record and a ranking of 12th in the nation. But the Cyclones had no wind behind them while the Jays -- who struggled noticeably at the start of the season against tough non-conference competition -- improved to 6-9 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division.
Worthington High School graduate Madisyn Huisman scored 18 first half points as Minnesota West gained a 38-20 lead at intermission. The hosts hit 41 percent of their shots in the first half compared to the Cyclones’ 19 percent.
After three quarters, West led by 20. St. Cloud Tech scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to make it 54-41, but the Cyclones never pulled within 10 points.
Huisman, who finished with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds while converting 9 of her 18 field goals, said her team was in a good place mentally right off the bat.
“We came in with a good attitude, ready to play,” she testified. “We knew we could win. We were passing it good, seeing the open players, taking the right shots.”
For the game, West shot 37 percent from the field, and St. Cloud Tech shot 27 percent. West was 4-for-18 from 3-point range while Tech, which was just 1-for-16 from the arc in the first half, finished 2-for-27.
The taller Cyclones only out-rebounded West by a few, 54-50. They committed 28 turnovers to West’s 14.
“We kept saying in the pre-season (pre-conference), getting your butt kicked could pay off,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “You got a team of freshmen, it’s that fine line between destroying their confidence and preparing them. You keep telling them, ‘Trust the process.’ And hopefully that’s helped them.”
Huisman certainly thinks so. She acknowledged that in many games this winter, the Lady Jays had been inconsistent with their shooting.
“I just had faith and was just hoping the shots were going. Tried my hardest. We’ve actually been shooting a lot more in practice and getting some shots up. I think that’s helped us a ton,” she said.
Minnesota West began to separate itself from St. Cloud Tech midway in the second quarter. Huisman scored on a driving layup to make the score 24-14, point guard MacKensie Post scored moments later on a 15-foot shot for a 26-14 lead, and with 3:34 till halftime Post hit Huisman on a long pass for a layup for 30-16. Post scored on a lay-in for 32-16, then with under a minute remaining it was 38-18 after scores from both Huisman and Post.
Post finished with 14 points. Teammates Dannyn Peterson (13) and Tia Murray (11) also scored in double figures. Post had five assists. Emily Breske had seven rebounds.
Sadie Hopman paced St. Cloud Tech with 14 points, and teammate Erin Knisley had 12 rebounds.
Hostikka-Hayenga had no complaints after the game. None at all.
“I think that we’re seeing the floor better. The game is slowing down for us,” she said. “They (the Cyclones) were big, and we were saying we gotta run, run, run. But then we have to have enough poise to set it up when it’s not there.”
St. Cloud Tech 12 20 34 54
Lady Jays 18 38 54 70
ST. CLOUD TECH (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Riley 2-1-2-10, Lindsey 0-1-1-3, Hopman 0-6-2-14, Fritz 0-2-9-13, Knisley 0-4-0-8, Arnoldi 0-1-0-2, Belanger 0-1-0-2, Manning 0-0-2-2. Totals 2-16-16-54.
MINNESOTA WEST (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Lessman 0-1-0-2, Peterson 0-4-5-13, Post 0-7-0-14, Zebe 0-1-0-2, Huisman 2-7-0-20, Garcia 0-0-0-0, Werdel 0-2-1-5, Weeldreyer 0-0-0-0, Breske 1-0-0-3, Murray 1-4-0-11. Totals 4-26-6-70.