Jays soaring: West women's basketball team one win away from playing for national championship

The Minnesota West Lady Jays first beat Rhode Island, then beat Gloucester in the national NJCAA Division III tournament. With a win on Friday, they play for a championship.

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ROCHESTER -- The Minnesota West Community and Technical College women’s basketball team is getting ever closer to a national championship.

The Lady Jays opened the 2022 NCJAA Division III national tournament at Rochester Community College (Minn.) with a 67-55 victory over the Community College of Rhode Island on Wednesday night, and on Thursday they solidly whipped the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Rowan College of South Jersey-Glouchester, 84-73.

In a tournament like this, it doesn’t matter how many words are in a college’s full name, it’s all about performance.

And the Lady Jays (now 19-12 on the season) are really hitting their stride.

West, the No. 8-ranked team in the country and the tournament’s seventh seed -- competing in their first national tourney since 2015 -- will play in the semifinals Friday at 7 p.m. against Hostos, which upset No. 3 seed Onondaga on Thursday. If the Jays win their semifinal game, they’ll play for the championship on Saturday.


Round Two

Lady Jays 84, Gloucester 73

The fact that Gloucester was the second seed in the big tournament and came in with a 24-2 record meant nothing to Minnesota West, which outscored the New Jersey school 26-13 in the second quarter to take a 41-24 lead into intermission.

“We played so well in that first half. We probably hit five, six back doors. We knew they were going to be aggressive,” said head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka.

Hayenga-Hostikka did some scouting before the game and realized that Gloucester takes the ball hard to the basket. She told her kids to step in and take charging calls.

“I said I’ll buy anybody who takes charges a Gatorade. I think we took five charges. So I gotta buy a lot of Gatorades,” she said, adding, “That’s about as good a game as we played this year in the first half.”

They didn’t play quite as well in the second half, as Gloucester got to within five points in the fourth quarter. But they held on to win.

Rebounding was a Lady Jay advantage, as the southwest Minnesotans out-boarded their rivals 52-35. Tia Murray, who led the winners with 23 points, had 15 rebounds of her own as well as three steals and two blocks.


West connected on 38.7 percent of its shots compared to Gloucester’s 37.7 percent. The Jays made six of 14 3-point attempts and 20 of 33 from the free throw line. Gloucester made just four of 18 from long range and 11 of 19 from the line.

Point guard Mackensie Post scored 17 points and had six assists for the Jays. Madisyn Huisman had 11 points, Dannyn Peterson nine and Hunter Garcia eight.

Lady Jays 15 41 64 84

Gloucester 11 24 51 73

Round One

Lady Jays 67, Rhode Island 55

One of the Lady Jays’ strengths in the 2021-22 basketball season has been their balanced scoring. It means that anybody can be the star, and if somebody doesn’t match their normal offensive output, somebody else usually picks up the slack.

Though she had eight rebounds, the Jays’ leading scorer in the regular season, Peterson, was held to one point on Wednesday. But teammates Murray had 16 points, Huisman 15, Macie Werdel 14 off the bench, and Post eight points with four assists and three steals. Murray also had 11 rebounds.


As a team, West came up with 15 steals for the game.

The game was a defensive struggle early in the first quarter, and Rhode Island led 8-0. But the Jays came to within three points heading into the second quarter. It was 30-30 at halftime.

West got off to a better start in the third quarter, scoring the first five points. The Knights, however, answered with six straight to take a 36-35 lead before West recovered for a 46-42 lead at the buzzer.

The Lady Jays took control with about four minutes remaining in the game. A long 2-point shot by Post, then a 3-pointer by Werdel gave the southwest Minnesotans a six-point advantage. A put-back by Murray at 3:38 made it 61-54, then a Huisman fielder put the lead at 63-54 at 2:30. The lead was 11 with two minutes to go.

Lady Jays 12 30 46 67

Rhode Island 15 30 42 55

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
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