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Look out! Lady Jays adding depth to new season

Minnesota West women
Leaders for the Minnesota West Lady Jays women's basketball team this season will be sophomores (from left) Emily Shaffer, Lexie Ramsey and Emily Schroer. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Depth is a luxury for any coach, and the Minnesota West Lady Jays haven’t always had it during past basketball campaigns.

Depth has arrived for 2019-20, however, in the form of 15 players on the preseason roster, and head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka is understandably pleased.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said this week before a practice session. “I think we’ve got three pretty darn good sophomores coming back. I think those three are going to have real good seasons. I have real good depth for the first time ever.”

Seasoned veterans Emily Shaffer (Worthington), Lexie Ramsey (Rock Rapids, Iowa) and Emily Schroer (Fulda) are excellent starting points. Twelve freshmen should not only provide the team with depth, but also with punch.

The pool includes players who are good shooters who can post up but also move outside to create mismatches. Hayenga-Hostikka -- who loves to play aggressively both offensively and defensively -- believes West has the makings of being a solid up-tempo team.

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“Last year you can tell the girls to go hard, but when they know they only have two subs …” she said.

Freshman recruits include Evelyn Othow (Worthington), Jeny Rivera (Puerto Rico), Audrey Rivers (Laramie, Wyo.), Natasha Feliciano Diaz (Puerto Rico), Teylor Albers (Bismarck, N.D.), Grace Suttle (Crooks, S.D.), Melissa Brandt (Lakefield), Jazmin Voehl (Lakefield), Emily Wilke (Le Sueur), Alanna Goetzinger (Chatfield), and Anna Cadassou and Justine Bernazeau, both from Lormort, France.

Othow, a 5-11 forward, was the kind of player at Worthington High School who was capable of dominating defensively while scoring both inside and outside. Brandt, at 5-10, is a hard-working post player who has a knack for rebounding and setting screens. Cadassou can play several positions, and Bernazeau can help at point guard.

Hayenga-Hostikka expects fine seasons from her three sophomores. Schaffer was the team’s go-to player in 2018-19. Schroer is a 3-point threat who worked diligently during the summer to improve her scoring off the dribble. And Ramsey, who the coach calls “our spark plug,” became a clutch player late in her freshman year.

“I think our biggest question mark is going to be taking care of the basketball right now,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We don’t have any real point guards, so we’re going to take a couple of people and make them into ball-handlers.”

After taking part in four scrimmages already, the Lady Jays begin the season in earnest on Tuesday, at home, against Mt. Marty JV. Traditional rivals Rochester and MState-Fergus Falls will not be on the schedule this year, as those MCAC teams dropped their programs for the upcoming season.

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