Raiders earn No. 2 seed in section playoffsThe road to reaching the Section 1 4A boys basketball championship game now goes through Hastings.
The road to reaching the Section 1 4A boys basketball championship game now goes through Hastings.
Construction on that road got under way Wednesday night for the Hastings Raiders, as the team opened up play in the section tournament at home against Rochester John Marshall, the No. 7-seeded team in the field.
Should Hastings win, they’ll play here Saturday night in the section semifinals against the winner of the game between No. 3-seeded Rochester Century and No. 6-seeded Northfield.
“I think that, generally speaking, the last couple weeks now, our confidence has risen,” Hastings coach Chad Feikema said. “We’re playing the best basketball we’ve played. We’ve had some sickness come through the team here in the last few weeks. Hopefully, we’re healthy enough to give it a go.”
Securing the No. 2 seed wasn’t easy for Hastings. At one point this season, the team had a 2-5 record. By season’s end, though, Hastings had improved to 12-13 overall, going 10-8 in their final 18 games. Throughout the year, too, it needs to be pointed out the strong schedule the Raiders played. There were four Suburban East Conference schools that were ranked in the state’s top 10 at some point throughout the season.
“There’s some really good competition there,” Feikema said. “Teams look at that in their voting for sections.”
The last few weeks have been somewhat bumpy for the Raiders, as illnesses have taken their toll on the team. Feikema hopes that’s behind them.
“My primary concern at this point is that we stay healthy,” he said. “Second, we’ve got to stay out of foul trouble and third, we have to just relax and play basketball and do what we do and not get uptight about the one-and-done circumstance of postseason.”
Feikema said Wednesday night’s game against John Marshall will be a good test for his team.
“I think we need to get that first win, and then get that snowball rolling downhill,” he said. “If we can get that first one, we’ll feel more comfortable as we move forward. Certainly, nobody on the current roster has won a playoff game. We need that first one.”
The section finals are planned for Friday, March 19, in Rochester.
Vs White Bear Lake
Hastings went on the road and defeated a very good White Bear Lake team Friday, Feb. 26, 67-60. White Bear Lake had a 16-7 record heading into the game and had beaten conference front-runner Forest Lake earlier in the season.
“That was our biggest win of the season,” Feikema said. “That game in particular helped us get the No. 2 seed.”
Hastings senior Nick Gmiterko reached a significant accomplishment in the game, scoring his 1,000th point. He became the second Hastings player this season to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. Shane Monjeau shares the accomplishment with Gmiterko.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” Feikema said. “That’s pretty neat for Nick and Shane to do that in the same year, and to do it two weeks apart.”
Hastings and White Bear played a pretty even first half in the game, with the Raiders holding a 29-25 edge at halftime. In the second half, Hastings was able to put some good runs together and stretched the lead to 12, then to 13 points. White Bear eventually cut it to one point, but then Hastings pushed it back to double digits.
“We never trailed in the second half,” Feikema said. “For the most part, we were in pretty good control throughout.”
Gmiterko finished with 18 points on the night. Tony Hammes had 12, Mike Hill had 18, Monjeau had 13, and Darius Wilkerson finished with 6.
Hastings finished regular season play with a pair of losses to a pair of really good teams. The Raiders lost to No. 8-ranked Forest Lake on Tuesday, March 2, 66-53.
Hastings lost to Stillwater on Friday, March 5, 62-44.
Both games came down to the final four minutes.
Against Forest Lake, Hastings was down four points with just more than two minutes to play.
Against Stillwater, Hastings trailed 46-44 with four minutes to play. The Ponies went on a 16-0 run to close out the game.
“Both games were very similar,” Feikema said. “They were tight, back-and-forth affairs until the very end. They just both kind of followed the same format.
Against Forest Lake, Gmiterko led Hastings in scoring with 18. Monjeau had 15, Wilkerson had 10, Josh Harstad had 5, Dan Guelle had 2, Hammes had 1, and Ellis Williams had 1.
Against Stillwater, Monjeau and Gmiterko each had 11. Hammes had 9, Hill had 7, Guelle had 2, Williams had 2, and Wilkerson had 2.