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Garcia, Voehl impressive in Lady Jays' triumph over Riverland

The Minnesota West women's and men's basketball teams split a doubleheader with Riverland on Saturday. Lady Jays Hunter Garcia and Jazmin Voehl were outstanding.

WORTHINGTON -- Earlier this season in a 71-63 road loss at Riverland Community College, the Minnesota West Lady Jays shot horribly from the 3-point line. One of their best long-distance shooters, 5-4 freshman guard Hunter Garcia, was colder than a Minnesota winter.

“In the second half, their coach was actually yelling, ‘Let her shoot, let her shoot,’” recalled Jays head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka Saturday afternoon at the Center for Health and Wellness in Worthington.

But Garcia, who hails from Albuquerque, N.M., always has the green light, Hayenga-Hostikka said, and she puts ‘em down with regularity in practice. On Saturday as those same Blue Devils came to Worthington, Garcia scored 19 first half points and finished with 24.

She made five of nine 3-point shots in the game, and not once did the Riverland bench tell its players to let her shoot.

Garcia, who also shone while doing some point guard duties Saturday in the absence of the team’s regular ball-handler, Justine Bernazeau, who was out under concussion protocol, got all the help she needed against Riverland from teammate Jazmin Voehl, a 6-foot sophomore from Lakefield.

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Voehl, playing in her first game of the season, scored 20 points. She was a strong presence inside, pulling down eight rebounds and making three assists. Her court intelligence, and her pinpoint passing, helped the Lady Jays win Saturday’s game, 77-66.

In the later men’s game, powerful Riverland came on strong late in the first half and throughout the second to defeat the Bluejays 89-64. The local men came to play and led at one point, 17-10. But the nationally-ranked Blue Devils could not be stopped for two full quarters.

Lady Jays 77, Riverland 66

Voehl has missed a lot of court action due a back problem. She was told by one doctor that she should never play basketball again. But a second doctor told her she’s free to continue, which pleases her coach and her teammates greatly.

“I love the girls who are here, I love my coaches,” Voehl said on Saturday. “It’s not me. I think we play real well as a team. I’m more proud of the girls than anything.”

The Lady Jays led Riverland 47-30 at halftime. They tired somewhat in the second half, allowing the Devils to climb within six, 62-56, with 6:20 to go. But the Jays recovered in time.

Voehl almost looked to be in mid-season form despite her long layoff. She accomplished what she accomplished on Saturday after just two weeks of practice. But to her, it wasn’t anything special.

“Players just want to play. Walking out on the floor, I just wanted to play basketball. We all wanted just to play basketball, and when you do that, good things happen,” she said.

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Hayenga-Hostikka said that when Voehl plays for a team like the Jays, who otherwise lack an inside threat, there is a “trickle-down” effect that opens the floor up for her teammates, freeing them to do what they do best.

It allowed Garcia to have a lot of good looks at the basket. Garcia said after the game that sometimes her coach needs to tell her to shoot, but she didn’t need to be told on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to cool down, if I stopped shooting,” she said.

Riverland 17 30 48 66

Lady Jays 22 47 60 77

RIVERLAND (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Colon 3-4-8-25, Miles 1-4-0-11, Love 0-5-2-12, Shanahan 2-2-6-16, Stewart 0-0-2-2. Totals 6-15-18-66

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Thorson 1-1-0-5, Diaz 0-1-0-2, Garcia 5-1-7-24, Christensen 0-4-0-8, Wilke 2-0-2-8, Rivera 0-3-0-6, Suttle 0-2-0-4, Voehl 0-7-6-20. Totals 8-19-15-77.

Riverland 89, Bluejays 64

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The Bluejays embraced the challenge. But it got away from them.

“The first 18 minutes we were doing really well. They’re a top team in the nation right now,” said West head coach Taylor Lupton.

The supremely talented, impressively athletic Blue Devils were matched for most of the first half by the Bluejays, who took a 14-8 lead midway through the half on a 3-point play (with free throw) from sophomore forward Elijah Williams and increased the lead to 17-10 on a 3-point play from sophomore forward Ty’Shawn Bryant. But the Devils tied the score at 24-24 and proceeded to wear the home team down.

Once they get a lead, Lupton admitted that the Devils are hard to come back on.

“It’s tough. They do have a lot of depth. That kind of game style -- you kind of can’t slow them down. It kind of forces you in that pace. And that’s the pace we want to play,” Lupton said.

Minnesota West got a strong performance from freshman guard Cortney Ligon, who led the Jays with 21 points. He took charge of the team’s offense throughout the game.

Williams added nine points and nine rebounds. Jacquez Stoudemire had seven points and 11 rebounds. Both players were credited with three assists.

Cleveland Bedgood led Rochester with 19 points.

Riverland out-rebounded Minnesota West 56-42, but what hurt the Bluejays more was their 27 turnovers compared to just 13 for the visitors.

“Twenty-seven turnovers. You can’t win a game with 27 turnovers,” said Lupton.

Riverland 39 89

Bluejays 33 64

RIVERLAND (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Magee 0-2-0-4, Bedgood 1-5-6-19, Spinks 0-1-0-2, Burgos 1-3-4-13, Jal 0-3-4-10, Payne 0-1-1-3, Ousley 0-2-3-7, Morris 0-1-0-2, Deng 0-1-0-2, Clavero 0-2-0-4, Bangu 3-4-0-17, Saint Louis 1-0-0-3, Harson 0-1-0-2, Dorcely 0-0-1-1. Totals 6-26-19-89.

BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- D.Williams 0-0-0-0, Stoudemire 1-2-0-7, Feit 1-2-1-6, Barber Jr. 1-2-0-7, E.Williams 1-2-2-9, Ligon 2-4-7-21, Wright 0-1-0-2, Durham 0-1-0-2, Bryant 0-2-3-7, Ihnen 1-0-0-3. Totals 7-15-13-64.

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