Three returners looking to lead Lady Jays this season

WORTHINGTON -- Mike Fury isn't sure where the scoring is going to come from. After graduating most of the offensive production from last year's Minnesota West Lady Jays basketball team, the head coach is relying on the three returning sophomores ...

WORTHINGTON -- Mike Fury isn't sure where the scoring is going to come from.

After graduating most of the offensive production from last year's Minnesota West Lady Jays basketball team, the head coach is relying on the three returning sophomores to lead this year's squad.

"We lost Ashlee Domine and Stacy Bush, and they were our main scorers," Fury said. "We have to find a team identity, and who is going to score for us. We don't know for sure, but we have an idea."

Domine led MW by averaging 20 points per game, while Bush averaged 12.5 per contest.

This season, sophomores Ashley Kirk, GP Vaske and Jerryann Thomas will have to step up their scoring production. The trio combined to score slightly less than 19 points per game, led by Kirk's 11.96 average.


"Ashley played a lot," Fury said. "And GP ended up starting over half the season for us. Jerryann has experience and knows her way around."

Kirk started all 24 games she played in last season, while Vaske played in 25 games and started in seven contests.

"Ashley and GP will lead us," Fury said. "Ashley had a good year and averaged almost 12 points per game. She had an injury late in the season, but she's come back real well from that, so she's ready to go.

"GP did a really good job for us last year stepping in. We had injuries down the stretch and she started seven games, but those were seven division games and she did a good job for us."

Along with the three returning players, nine new faces don the blue and white this season.

"We have 12 players, and that's a luxury we don't have every year," Fury said. "That's a good start for us. We have some depth and some talent -- now we have to learn how to play. Sometimes that takes a while, but we have 15 non-conference games before the conference starts in January."

One strength this season will be the quickness of the Lady Jays.

"We have good quickness, so hopefully we can put some pressure on our opponents," Fury said. "Maybe some man-to-man full-court pressure and some zone-type press. We just want to turn up the defense, and I think they all have the ability to do that."


Breanna Rients (Southwest Star Concept), Rachel Pavelko (Worthington) and Brittany Gravley (Russell-Tyler-Ruthton) could all compete for the starting point guard spot.

From there, Kirk, Page Snider (Newport, Va.), Brittany Helgeson (Hills-Beaver Creek), Brooke Kuehne (Fulda) and Toni Ingenthron (Worthington) could see time at either the two or three guard position.

In the post, Thomas, Vaske, Amanda Murray (Alexandria, S.D.) and Jenna Donkersloot (Worthington) will all see time at forward.

While MW will look to use its quickness on defense, offensively the Lady Jays will have some options.

"Hopefully we can shoot some 3s," Fury said. "A strength might be the inside-outside game. We have some talent on the perimeter and on the inside, so if we get stuck some night that we can't hit 3s, we can look inside."

Last season, MW shot 532 treys on the year, converting 152 (28.6 percent).

"We probably will shoot some 3s again," Fury said. "Ashley, Breanna, Brittany Gravley, Brittany Helgeson and Rachel can all shoot 3s, so I think we'll shoot some. I don't think it will be our team identity like it's been the last couple of years, but you never know. Sometimes you end up shooting a lot of them, and that's OK; you just have to make a few."

While the conference schedule won't begin until Jan. 7 at Anoka-Ramsey, MW will have plenty of court time to prepare for a grueling conference schedule.


The Lady Jays open their season Nov. 5 at Dakota Wesleyan.

"We're trying to get everything in before the first game," Fury said. "We have a scrimmage at Dordt (today), so that will be good. We'll find out a lot.

"We've been practicing for only two weeks, but we're ready already. We're ready to go and have some fun."

After finishing 14-11 overall and 6-6 in the conference while missing the playoffs last season, the direction this year is back to the state postseason.

"The goal every year is to get in the state playoffs because then anything can happen," Fury said. "Last year we were 6-6, and we beat seven out of the eight teams in the state tournament, but we didn't get in. We want to play well, but maybe we'll have to win more than six games. You never know how that will go."

While the coach is hoping the team can mature, the youthful players will have a chance to learn from a renowned coach in Fury, who is entering his 28th year at the helm of the Lady Jays.

"It doesn't seem like it," Fury said. "It seems like 12 because it's gone by so fast. We've had a lot of fun, and hopefully this will be another fun season. I'm looking forward to it. We have some good talent from good programs, and that's always nice to have. It makes our job a lot easier, now we just have to put them together and get them going in the right direction."

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