LADY JAYS BASKETBALL: West outruns Mustangs

WORTHINGTON -- Kayla Vander Veen has been playing on basketball teams with Kaitlin Gerber for almost a decade. When Minnesota West faced off against Morningside JV in Monday night's women's college basketball game, the long-time friends were on o...

MW's Vander Veen
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Minnesota West's Kayla Vander Veen (4) looks to split a pair of Morningside defenders during Monday night's women's college basketball game in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Kayla Vander Veen has been playing on basketball teams with Kaitlin Gerber for almost a decade.

When Minnesota West faced off against Morningside JV in Monday night's women's college basketball game, the long-time friends were on opposing rosters.

It was a homecoming for Worthington native Gerber, playing not only against Vander Veen for the first time, but also fellow Worthington graduates Alyssa Smith and Kayla Schroeder.

"It's a hard transition," Gerber said. "I found myself giggling a lot. I became so close with all those girls, and we flowed with each other, then to go and play with these girls, it's a hard thing, especially being away from home. But I enjoyed it. It was fun coming back home and having a home crowd."

The Lady Jays spoiled Gerber's return with a dominant performance against the Mustangs, winning by a final score of 83-65.


"We had a hard loss this past weekend, so it was really nice to play at home to get our momentum back," Vander Veen said. "And we had a little bit of a motive -- we were playing a teammate from high school."

Vander Veen helped fuel the Lady Jays' with a team-high four 3-pointers, including three in a row during a stretch in the first half.

Despite ending up on the losing side, Gerber was impressed by her long-time friend.

"I was really proud of VV, she's improved a lot," Gerber said. "She's always been a best friend of mine, so it's hard to view her as an opponent. She's always been my teammate since I was 10. So it was different."

Vander Veen wasn't the only Lady Jay who was in a good rhythm on offense. The team shot 57 percent from the field in the first-half, helping it jump out to a 27-point advantage at halftime.

Smith had 10 of her 12 points in the half and Sam Lynn added 11 of her team-high 18 points, helping propel MW to the early lead.

The Lady Jays held their largest lead of the night with the score at 68-38 at the midpoint of the second half, but the Mustangs took advantage of being fouled 12 times in the half -- converting 20 of 21 free throws -- to make it a much closer contest.

"That was 40 minutes of pretty good basketball for us, we did a lot of things well," MW head coach Mike Fury said. "If you take away the turnovers and we keep them off the line, we really really played well."


Even with the late foul trouble, the Lady Jays got valuable contributions from players that started the game on the bench -- including a trio of 3-pointers from Kayla Schroeder in the second half.

"The good thing is that we have a good bench," Fury said. "Christa (Wik) can come in, and Kayla Schroeder can come in, so I think if we do get in foul trouble we're going to be OK."

Smith attributed great teamwork as the key to Monday's win, which was demonstrated by the balanced point distribution in the game for the Lady Jays.

"I think every game our top scorer has been a little bit different," Smith said. "We have consistency with Sam, but we can have an off night and yet know that someone's going to be there to carry the game. I think it will mean that when we come into a big game, that we are able to have so many different people score and that can put an effort in so that we can get it done."

The Lady Jays are now 5-2 on the season. Fury has been excited to witness his team's progression.

"We continue to improve," Fury said. "It's pretty tough competition, so I think if we continue to improve night after night we're going to be right where we want to be come January, and that's what we've got to do. We're having fun right now, so we just have to keep going and keep playing hard."

Vander Veen noted that part of the team's improvement can be attributed to a faster pace of play, something that was demonstrated with a number of unopposed fast-break points against the Mustangs.

"We've definitely picked up our pace from the beginning of the year -- our game is a lot faster instead of slow, like when we're running the plays, and we're doing more fast-breaks on offense," Vander Veen said.


The Lady Jays will immediately get back to work when they travel Storm Lake, Iowa, tonight to take on the Buena Vista JV.

"We talked about how we had a game tonight, and we go down to Buena Vista tomorrow night, so we want to put together 80 minutes, that's all we've got to worry about," Fury said. "We've got the first 40 done, so now we've just got to go on the road and play good tomorrow going into the Thanksgiving break. It should be fun."

M-Side JV 17 48 -- 65

Lady Jays 44 39 -- 83

M-Side JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Boman 1-0-2-5, Osten 2-4-2-16, Wahl 1-2-4-11, Zylstra 0-1-0-2, Lehmann 0-0-1-1, Mahrt 0-0-3-3, Bruce 0-2-11-15, Ackerman 0-4-4-12. Totals 4-13-27-65.

Lady Jays (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Thier 1-4-0-11, Vander Veen 4-0-0-12, Maras 0-2-0-4, Smith 0-3-6-12, Lynn 1-5-5-18, Drooger 0-3-3-6, Wik 0-1-0-2, Schroeder 3-0-0-9, Christensen 0-4-1-9. Totals 9-22-12-83.

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