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MW basketball: Bluejays win, Lady Jays fall against MState-Fergus Falls

WORTHINGTON -- Protecting leads hasn't been easy for the Minnesota West men's basketball team this season, but on Saturday the Bluejays handled the job wonderfully in a 92-79 win over visiting MState-Fergus Falls.

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Minnesota West guard Brandon Harcula (2) leaps past MState-Fergus Falls defender Grant Yohnke (21) as he drives in for a layup in the Bluejays victory on Saturday in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Protecting leads hasn’t been easy for the Minnesota West men’s basketball team this season, but on Saturday the Bluejays handled the job wonderfully in a 92-79 win over visiting MState-Fergus Falls.

Leading 49-44 at halftime, the Jays allowed the Spartans to make short inroads at various times in the second half. But each time, they reasserted themselves to stay in front while improving to 4-10 on the season and evening their division record at 1-1.

Freshman guard Jayden Hampton scored a team-high 32 points and made several nice plays down the stretch to keep the Spartans at bay.

“We started out rough,” said Hampton, recalling the team’s string of losses at the beginning of the season. “Then we started hanging out together, and did a lot of team activities. We trust each other now. We learned to like each other.”

In the early game Saturday, the Minnesota West women didn’t fare nearly as well, losing to MState-Fergus Falls 75-60 in a contest where the Lady Jays were never able to make a serious run. The loss dropped the women to 11-3 while Fergus Falls evened its record at 7-7.

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Bluejays 92, MState-FF 79 Hampton began the game with a 3-point shot and made another early in the first half to increase West’s lead to 25-14. He finished the game just as strong, meshing two more 3-pointers with about two minutes remaining and scoring seconds later on a fast-break layup with about a minute to go to make it 92-79.

He had lots of help. Trevoris Waugh, a 6-6 freshman forward, tallied 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kuol Chol added 14 and Brandon Harcula 12. Chol and Hampton had six assists each. Hampton dished out four assists.

At various times this season, the Bluejays might have wilted after moving out to a 67-56 lead, but they held firm. MState-Fergus Falls pulled to within 67-64 at the 11-minute mark, but West led 78-64 with eight and a half minutes to play. The Spartans scored the next eight points to make it 78-72 at 7:20, and they trailed just 82-77 with three minutes to play. But again, the Bluejays increased their lead.

“We’re a young team. We’ve got a lot to prove,” Hampton said later about the freshman-dominated Jays.

Minnesota West head coach Kris Babler said his Jays still have much to prove. But they’re making progress.

“We’re getting closer. There were just too many possessions that slipped for us. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the focus, but the effort was great,” he said. “I think the big takeaway today, the guys are enjoying playing team basketball. Guys are rooting for each other. They want to see their teammates succeed.”

William Heard scored 28 points to lead Fergus Falls, now 4-11 on the season.

MState-Fergus Falls 44 79Bluejays 49 92MSTATE-FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Lemke 0-1-2-4, Heard 5-5-3-28, Yohnke 3-1-2-13, Tungseth 4-2-0-16, Affield 1-2-2-9, Zimmerman 0-2-3-7, Owen 0-0-2-2. Totals 13-13-14-79.BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Chol 1-5-1-14, Harcula 2-2-2-12, Hampton 6-7-0-32, Snelling 0-0-0-0, Hesebeck 0-1-0-2, Joseph 1-1-0-5, Carter 1-2-0-7, Waugh 0-10-0-20. Totals 11-28-3-92.MState-FF 75, Lady Jays 60 It was an unusual game, and it left more than a few people scratching their heads. The Lady Jays entered the contest with an 11-2 overall record. The Spartans were 6-7. The Jays were at home, and they matched up well with the visitors physically.

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And yet, Fergus Falls led for most of the way. Just when hometown fans anticipated a winning run from the Lady Jays … it never materialized.

“It started out bad, and it kind of just stayed bad the whole game,” said West head coach Rosalie Hostikka-Hayenga, who said her team was outplayed in every phase.

“Execution was poor. I think we took some poor shots. We never followed them up. … We didn’t pass the ball very well. I think we had 22 turnovers, and they didn’t even press us.”

In the first half, Minnesota West converted only seven of 36 field goal attempts -- less than 20 percent. MState-Fergus Falls made 48 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, and 53 percent for the game compared with the Jays’ 29 percent.

As inconsistently as the Lady Jays passed the ball and shot the ball, the Spartans were consistent. Cassandra Jordan led the visitors with 23 points while Lydia Klemetson and Samantha Lupkes each scored 18.

For West, Katherin Ihnen had 14 points. Taylor Noid had 13 and Andrea Hinkeldey had 10. Hinkeldey also had four assists and nine rebounds. Ihnen also had nine boards.

Early in the fourth quarter, it appeared as though the Lady Jays’ big run might finally occur. An Emily Haubrich 3-point shot pulled the hosts within four points at 50-46. But the Spartans allowed the Jays no closer the rest of the way.

MState-Fergus Falls 15 32 50 75Lady Jays 15 24 43 60MSTATE-FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Hendrickson 1-1-0-5, Tenneson 0-0-0-0, Mathiesen 1-0-0-3, Klemetson 4-1-4-18, Imsade 0-0-0-0, Jordan 2-6-5-23, Poehler 0-4-0-8, Lupkes 0-9-0-18. Totals 8-21-9-75LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Noid 1-3-4-13, Haubrich 3-1-0-8, Kramer 1-0-0-3, Barnett 0-0-0-0, Gunnink 0-3-2-8, Hinkeldey 0-3-4-10, Wabeke 0-2-0-4, Ihnen 0-3-8-14. Totals 4-15-18-60.  

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Lady Jays post Andrea Hinkeldey (23) makes a shot at the hoop in the face of two MState Fergus Falls defenders in Minnesota West's loss on Saturday in Worthington.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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 dwolter@dglobe.com.
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