Raiders’ boys basketball season ends at Rochester
The Hastings boys basketball team’s final season in the Suburban East Conference came to an end against Rochester John Marshall in the first round of the Section 1AAAA tournament. However, Raiders’ coach
Chad Feikema saw improvement in his team this year and predicts a 20-plus win season in 2014-15 in the newly formed Metro East Conference.
“We more than tripled our wins from last year to this year,” Feikema said. “Our goal next year is to triple those wins again and get to 21. We feel like we’ve got a shot at really knocking some doors down. I think our guys have some lofty goals. We have a new conference and a new schedule and it’ll be a little bit of a fresh start.”
Hastings, the sixth seed in Section 1AAAA, fell 75-53 to No. 3-seeded Rochester John Marshall on Wednesday, Feb. 26, in Rochester to end the year.
The Raiders (7-20) had Rochester John Marshall within four points with roughly four minutes remaining in the first half and trailed by a mere eight points, 31-23, at the break. However, midway through the second half, a pair of two key 3-pointers by the Rockets (20-6) coupled with Hastings coming up empty on the opposite end of the court extended the Raiders’ deficit to 16 points and Rochester cruised to the 22-point win.
“When it’s a 10-point game and they hit two 3s, that changes the game,” Feikema said. “When you’re down single digits you’re not that far away, but once it gets in the teens you get caught in scrambling mode a little bit.”
A rough shooting night by the Raiders was pivotal in the loss. Hastings shot just 30 percent from the field (17-for-57). The Rockets shot 55 percent from the floor (31-for-56).
“That’s a big difference,” Feikema said. “We definitely felt we had a shot to beat them. If we played them again I would still believe we had a shot. But they’re a good team.”
Junior guard Sam Skoyen led the offensive attack for Hastings with 21 points. Skoyen shot 7-for-14 on the night, including going 5-for-8 from behind the 3-point line. Also, junior forward Craig Nielsen had 14 points and eight rebounds and senior Drew Pottinger chipped in six points.
“Largely we played well,” Feikema said. “Our half-court defense was really good. We got some good shots, we just didn’t knock them down. We missed a couple of layups early which kind of set the tone.”
Rochester went on to beat No. 2-seed Farmington 77-68 in the semifinals to earn a trip to the section championship against top-seeded Lakeville North.
The seven wins by Hastings this season was an improvement from a forgettable 2012-13 that saw the Raiders go 2-24 and lose to Park, which snapped a 68-game conference losing streak by the Wolfpack.
“We were a much improved team,” Feikema said.
Feikema said he would have liked more than seven wins, but pointed to two extremely close games against Stillwater, an overtime loss to Forest Lake and good games against Roseville, Mounds View and Woodbury as things to build on.
“We had a lot of games against really good competition where we played them really well the majority of the night but didn’t get the W,” Feikema said. “But we were far more competitive this year than we were a year ago.
Next year, Hastings will bring back five of its players from this season’s eight-man rotation, including its top three scorers – Skoyen, junior guard Joe Dittrich and Nielsen, respectively.
Moving to the Metro East, which will likely be led by St. Thomas Academy (21-7), Tartan (22-6) and Hill-Murray (16-11), should also help. The Suburban East Conference had three teams (East Ridge, Cretin-Derham Hall and Woodbury) in the top 10 in Class AAAA at points this season.
“We played in one of the top two conferences in the state, top to bottom,” Feikema said. “Next year we’re in a different conference and we bring back a lot of guys back from this year’s team.”
Hastings graduates five seniors – Zach Wiese, Ross Dylla, Alex Zuzek, Pottinger and Josh Brown. Feikema said the seniors all worked hard and had great attitudes. Each will be going on to four-year colleges.
“Our five seniors meant a lot to our program,” Feikema said. “It was just a great group of guys. They worked their tails off and really led by example.”