Strong efforts: West women, men excite home crowd
WORTHINGTON -- In a doubleheader basketball night at Minnesota West Community and Technical College on Monday, the Lady Jays escaped with a hard-fought overtime win and the Bluejay men appeared to right themselves after a rough performance on Saturday.
The men did lose Monday, 98-93 to MState-Fergus Falls, but they deserved kudos for their fight, their focus and their determination. In a 103-79 setback against Western Tech on Saturday, the men’s team played arguably its poorest game of the season -- an undisciplined effort that forced the players to take a hard look in the mirror.
The message of Saturday’s loss, apparently, was learned.
“First of all, I want to apologize for the way we played on Saturday, and everything that happened,” was the first thing 5-10 freshman guard CJ Ligon said coming out of the locker room. “Honestly, I feel we needed that game on Saturday. As crazy as it sounds, it showed us who we are, and today we came in and tried to show more discipline.”
In the early game on Monday, the West women went to the wire against MState, finally prevailing by an 84-81 score.
Bluejays 98, MState-FF 93
Fergus Falls got the jump early, leading 17-9. It was 48-35 in the Spartans’ favor at halftime.
That was the point where the Bluejays fell apart on Saturday, opting for an undisciplined, street-style kind of basketball. But on Monday, they came out strong to start the second half and maintained their focus to the end. With a little more than five minutes remaining they cut MState’s lead to three points and got to within a point, 87-86, at the 2:29 mark on an Amos Alford free throw. Fergus Falls pushed its lead to six, saw MW whittle it back to one, and finally won by five.
Ligon finished with 17 points. London Campbell and Christian Kyles each scored 20 for the Jays, and Campbell added 12 rebounds. Alford had 18 points.
The game was exciting to watch, made possible by a spirited team effort by the home team.
“I think we responded pretty well (to Saturday),” said head coach Brian Stoebner. “Give our guys a lot of credit, they busted their butts. They played under control. We still have to play better -- we had 29 turnovers.”
Part of that had to do with the Bluejays fast-breaking, up-tempo effort, however. In response, Stoebner said it’s OK to play fast, but it has to be “controlled chaos.”
He added: “I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. But that’s part of playing together and growing.”
For his part, Ligon hoped Monday’s game is the start of something better for the Jays, now 3-13 on the season.
“I feel we can keep it up. All the guys played well. We just gotta get over the hump,” he said.
MState-FF 48 98
Bluejays 35 93
MSTATE-FF (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Edwards 3-2-9-22, Taylor 2-6-3-21, Davis 0-6-0-12, Lee 1-3-0-9, Engelmeyer 2-1-2-10, Pearson 2-0-4-10, Aasness 0-2-0-4, Bell 1-3-1-10. Totals 11-23-19-98.
BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Ligon 0-5-7-17, Muktar 0-1-0-2, Dorian 1-1-0-5, Campbell 1-7-3-20, Paulson 0-4-1-9, Kyles 3-4-3-20, Sohn 0-1-0-2, Alford 0-6-6-18. Totals 5-29-20-93.
Lady Jays 84, MState-FF 81 (OT)
It was a crazy finish to regulation. West’s Dannyn Peterson made one of two free throws with 16.4 seconds remaining to give the Lady Jays a 70-68 lead, but with 9.1 seconds left MState’s Jayna Gronewold’s two free throws tied the score. At 5.3 seconds, West’s Jayden Zebe made her first free throw but missed her second, but there was a foul on the rebound. So with 4.0 seconds left, Gronewold made the first but missed the second to force overtime.
Tia Murray scored West’s first four points of overtime, giving her team a 75-74 lead. Peterson made a big shot for a 81-79 West lead just outside the final minute, then rebounded a Fergus Falls miss on the other end and was fouled at :59.4.
She made both and West led 83-78. The Jays held on in the closing seconds to move to 8-10 overall and 4-1 in the Southern Division.
It could’ve gone either way.
“We pulled it out, though. I guess we just wanted it more. We didn’t play well in the beginning, but we just stuck it out -- hustled our butts off. I really think everybody contributed,” said Murray, a 6-foot freshman who totaled nine points and eight rebounds in the effort. “When your adrenaline’s pumping, you don’t feel it. Especially at the end. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but I’ve been in situations like that before, like in high school. We all kinda handled the pressure.”
Minnesota West won despite the fact that their outstanding point guard, Mackensie Post, fouled out with about a minute to go in regulation.
Peterson led the Lady Jays with 21 points while Post scored 14 and Macie Werdel 10. Peterson also had 14 rebounds. Post dished out four assists.
“I told the girls (in the locker room), ‘I’m proud of you because you hung in there long enough to win the game somehow,” said head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka, whose team shot only 25 percent from the field in the first half.
MState-FF 9 29 52 71 81
Lady Jays 12 22 44 71 84
MSTATE-FF (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Gronewold 0-12 9-33, Kurz 0-4-1-9, Dehler 0-5-1-11, Lider 0-1-0-2, Rostad 0-1-0-2, Hovland 0-0-1-1, Foss 0-3-4-10, Vogel 3-2-0-13. Totals 3-28-16-81.
LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Murray 0-4-1-9, Peterson 0-6-9-21, Post 0-6-2-14, Zebe 0-4-1-9, Huisman 0-2-1-5, Hunter 2-1-0-8, Werdel 1-2-3-10, Weeldreyer 0-2-0-4, Breske 1-0-1-4. Totals 4-27-18-84