The number seven ranked team in 3A came rolling into town Friday night to take on the Raiders, who have been struggling as of late to score and win games. On paper, this looked to be a game that the …
The number seven ranked team in 3A came rolling into town Friday night to take on the Raiders, who have been struggling as of late to score and win games. On paper, this looked to be a game that the Raider girls didn’t stand a chance in. It’s a good thing games aren’t played on paper.
Action began as a back and forth battle with seniors Linnea Hanson and Shea Levos collecting the first seven points for the Raiders. They seemed, however, to get stuck at seven points and the St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders took advantage, jumping out to a 14-7 lead. It was at this point in the game where the Crusaders could have stepped on the Raider proverbial throat and never looked back. The Raider girls, however, had different plans.
A number of defensive stops kept the Crusaders at bay and then it was junior Lilly Nuytten who grabbed an offensive board and put it in to break the drought and make it 14-9. Junior Maggie Schlottman drained a three from the wing and eighth-grader Keagan McVicker nailed a three from the top of the key to give the Raiders the lead at 15-14 and cap an 8-0 run.
Hastings and St. Croix Lutheran traded baskets until halftime and the Raiders went into the half feeling very confident down only three points to a very tough Crusader team.
Head coach Scott Addyman had this to say about the first half, “Our seniors set the tone in the first few minutes. We relied on their chemistry with one another as all five seniors started the game. We moved the ball better than we ever have this year and found the open shooter, early and often. St. Croix Lutheran is an excellent shooting team and our perimeter defense contested almost every shot making it difficult for St. Croix Lutheran to put the ball in the hoop.”
It was that defense that kept a sharp shooting Crusader team cold, especially from behind the arc where they love to shoot it from. Hanson had probably one of the most difficult tasks as she was assigned to guard freshman Laura Hauge, who has had several D1 looks already. She’s a great shooter and leads the team averaging 21 points per game. Her sister Lucia is also a major threat, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. Together they give many teams fits, however, with a combination of great guard defense led by Hanson and very good interior defense, the Raiders were able to slow the Crusaders down and keep the score close the entire game.
The second half, though, was when Nuytten shined. Her motor was constantly running as she blocked shots, grabbed rebounds and put the ball in the net. The Raiders continued to play great team defense and moved the ball well on offense to find that open shot and it paid off. With six minutes left in the game, the Raiders went up 44-43 and they never looked back as they were able to keep the lead the rest of the way.
Senior captain Levos said, “We had just come off of six days of practice with no games. It was clear all week that we were excited for this game and we came ready to play. We had girls stepping up this game scoring wise as well as the whole team playing great defense.”
With 11 seconds left in regulation, the Crusaders put up a shot and McVicker grabbed the rebound. St. Croix Lutheran was forced to foul and put McVicker at the line for a double bonus. She sank the first one, despite some taunting coming from the Crusader fans, to give Hastings a four point lead. The second shot rimmed out and it was Schlottman who grabbed a huge rebound to keep the ball in Hastings’ possession. Schlottman found Nuytten in the paint and she was fouled with seven seconds left. KDWA announcer Nick Tuckner was ecstatic when he said, “Nuytten is fouled and the Raiders are going to win this thing tonight!”
Nuytten buried her two free throws and the Raiders did indeed win the game 56-52 against a very tough, sharp shooting St. Croix Lutheran team.
“The girls capitalized and valued the basketball on every possession. Last night was a signature win for our program,” said coach Addyman.
Nuytten collected another double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Levos and McVicker each added 11. The Raiders improve to 5-7 overall and play another very tough game next Friday against DeLassalle, who is another high ranking team in 3A. Saturday they take on rival Henry Sibley.
Shea Levos talked about the upcoming games, “we have four practices until our next games, which are back to back, and we hope the energy we had in this game will carry into those as we close our regular season and move into section play.”
Maggie Schlottman drains a three over the outstretched arm of a St. Croix Lutheran player in Fridays 56-52 win. Photo by Bruce Karnick