Raiders fall to Panthers, 95-53
Two persistent problems have plagued the Hastings boys basketball team this season - rebounding and turnovers.
Both of those trouble spots were exposed in the first round of the section tournament last Wednesday night, as Hastings lost to Lakeville North, 95-53.
The Panthers had 18 offensive rebounds for the game, with most of those coming in the first half. A couple times, after one of those rebounds, the ball was kicked out to a guard at the three-point line. Those open looks and a few easy baskets on some turnovers helped Lakeville get out to a 53-27 halftime lead. They cruised in the second half, ending Hastings' season.
Lakeville North placed second in the state last season and is the section's No. 1 seeded team. Hastings was seeded No. 8.
"We've used the phrase with our team, 'We have to get the ball back,'" coach Chad Feikema said. "From a rebounding perspective, and loose balls, we didn't get any of those. They were the first one to the loose balls.
"Those things killed us."
When Hastings was able to get the ball back, Lakeville put the pressure on, forcing Hastings into an up-tempo first half, and at times the pressure was too much.
"They extended their defense into the full court, and the game got more chaotic," Feikema said. "We really couldn't settle into a halfcourt offense. The strength of this team right now is to execute in the halfcourt offense. That doesn't do us any good if we don't get settled.
"When they were able to get us into a helter skelter game, we were in trouble."
Hastings was led in scoring by Sam Skoyen, who had 17 points. Craig Nielsen had 14.
Also scoring were: Alex Wiese, four; Ross Dylla, nine; Brandon McCarthy, two; and Bryce Garvey, seven.
Hastings finished the season with a 2-23 record, but Feikema said you'd never have guess that was team's record if you were to be around them.
"It's a group I'm really proud of," he said. "We were very young and small. We only won a couple games, but if you were to hang around our team in practice, you'd never know we were a team that only won a couple of games. The way they worked in practice, their attitude and their love of the game - that was all really good."
Hastings will lose the services of four seniors, Alex Wiese, Chris Webb, Bryce Garvey and Barrett Hultgren.
While the game certainly didn't finish the way Feikema and the Raiders had hoped, he left encouraged by what he saw from his team. The entered the season with not one player who averaged a point a game on varsity. Half of the roster this season was comprised of sophomores, including the team's leading scorer, Sam Skoyen, who finished the year averaging 20 points per game.
He was the fourth-leading scorer in the Suburban East Conference.
"That's a pretty good accomplishment," Feikema said.
Craig Nielsen, another sophomore, averaged just under 12 points per game and had seven rebounds per game as the team's center. At just 6-2 and 160-pounds, he didn't have an easy matchup inside, facing much bigger players all year long.
Joe Dittrich, a sophomore, had a strong season going until he suffered a few concussions and was forced to sit out the final few games.
"He was, as a point guard, our glue," Feikema said. "He was very, very steady. He got us into our offense. He's a very intelligent player. He made very few mistakes out there."
Feikema had high expectations of Skoyen, Nielsen and Dittrich, and he wasn't let down.
"We knew they were going to be good," Feikema said. "Those three guys exceeded even what we had expected we'd get from them. Those three guys really had outstanding seasons, especially considering a year ago they were playing ninth-grade ball."
A couple juniors were key contributors this year, and they will return as seniors next year.
They are Zach Wiese, Ross Dylla, Brandon McCarthy and Drew Pottinger.
Considering that, plus the fact that a number of talented players are coming up through the ranks, Feikema is looking forward to a much better season in 2013-14.
"Next year, when the season begins, the guys will know what it's like to go through a varsity season," he said. "This year, nobody had that experience. We're not that far away. The future is bright. We're excited about what is coming. I'd anticipate we'd be quite a bit better next year.
"We've got a lot of people working hard to develop this program. We've got some really good people, from the assistant coaches at the high school, to the middle school and the traveling program. They're doing some great things. Our numbers are up. Our interest is up. Kids are learning the things they need to so that when they get to the high school level, we'll have an opportunity to be successful."