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West women win Region 13 tourney, advance to nationals

The Minnesota West women's basketball team overcame a sluggish start Sunday to beat Anoka-Ramsey for a trip to the national tournament in Rochester, Minn.

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COON RAPIDS -- The Region 13 championship game on Sunday was a microcosm of the season for the Minnesota West Lady Jays basketball team.

Playing for a spot in the national tournament in Coon Rapids, the Jays trailed by 13 points to Anoka-Ramsey in the first half.

“We panicked,” said head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka.

But the second half was different. The West women pulled themselves together and won, 73-69.

Minnesota West Bluejays.png

“We re-grouped. And we did what we needed to do,” said the coach.

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The Lady Jays, playing with a full roster of freshmen, began the 2021-22 campaign struggling to find a rhythm, and they lost their first five games. But slowly and surely, everything began to click, and they placed second in the Southern Division of the MCAC.

Now, they’re going to the nationals, which will take place in Rochester, Minn., March 9, 10 and 11. Seeding for the 12-team tournament was not completed when The Globe went to press.

On Saturday, Minnesota West won its semifinal Region 13 contest 90-67 over Mesabi Range.

Lady Jays 90, Mesabi Range 67

Shooting accurately from the field and from the free throw line, and getting good balance in the semis, West enjoyed a good start to the tourney.

The Lady Jays earned their victory over Mesabi by hitting 48.6 percent of their field goals and 18 of 22 from the free throw line. They were 4-for-14 from 3-point range.

Mackensie Post scored 11 points with four steals and four assists. Tia Murray had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Madisyn Huisman scored 14 points, Dannyn Peterson 13, Hunter Garcia 10, Madie Werdel 8 and Emily Breske 7 for the winners.

Bonnie Taylor led Mesabi Range with 23 points.

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Mesabi Range 11 30 50 67

Lady Jays 25 51 72 90

Lady Jays 73, Anoka-Ramsey 69

Hayenga-Hostikka gave credit to an always tough Anoka-Ramsey defense when considering her team’s rough first half on Sunday, but it was clear that things would have to change if the Lady Jays were to advance. Fifteen West turnovers and several offensive rebounds and put-backs by the Golden Rams contributed mightily to the Worthington-based team’s slow start.

But in the second half, MW took care of the basketball and went hard to the basket. The Jays outscored A-R 35-25 over the last two quarters.

After the game, the locker room was special, Hayenga-Hostikka said.

“It was unbelievable. What we came from in November, it was unbelievable,” said the veteran coach. “It was awesome. Honestly, I think it was a little bit of disbelief. It was kind of like, ‘Oh my God, what did we just do?’”

Murray had just three points and four rebounds in the first half Sunday, but she finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds and was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

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Post and Werdel scored 11 points apiece while Peterson had nine and Huisman eight. Huisman also had 10 rebounds.

For the game, West out-rebounded the Rams 48-36 and hit 44.6 percent of their field goals compared to the Rams’ 39.1 percent. The Jays made 18 of 29 free throws to their opponents’ six of 15.

Lady Jays 17 38 58 73

Anoka-Ramsey 25 43 56 69

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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