Slow start dooms RaidersFor the second game in a row, the Hastings boys basketball team dug itself a hole. Again this time, that slow start spelled trouble for the Raiders. On Friday at home against Forest Lake the Raiders fell behind right away, 10-2. Hastings ended up losing by 11 points, 60-49. Hastings is now 6-8 overall and 1-6 in the Suburban East Conference.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
For the second game in a row, the Hastings boys basketball team dug itself a hole. Again this time, that slow start spelled trouble for the Raiders.
On Friday at home against Forest Lake the Raiders fell behind right away, 10-2. Hastings ended up losing by 11 points, 60-49. Hastings is now 6-8 overall and 1-6 in the Suburban East Conference.
“That stretch right there, that was the difference in the game,” coach Chad Feikema said. “We didn’t come out playing defense the way we should. They got two opens looks at threes and a few open layups. We were in a hole right away.”
Hastings fought back, eventually cutting the halftime lead by the Rangers down to five points at 36-31.
In the second half, Forest Lake rolled out its 1-3-1 defense and held Hastings to just 18 points in the half. The Raiders had seen tape of the Rangers playing the zone, and they prepared for it during practice, Feikema said. The Rangers played that zone for much of the second half.
“We knew we would see it from them,” he said. “That’s part of what they do. We didn’t handle it real well. We weren’t able to get rolling offensively, and build on the momentum that we closed the first half on.”
Hastings had at least four fast break opportunities that they didn’t capitalize on, Feikema said.
“If you convert those opportunities where you have a fast break advantage, we would have been in a much better position,” he said. “We couldn’t convert on a few of those key opportunities.”
That the Raiders were able to get back in the game at the end of the first half wasn’t a big surprise to Feikema – he’s come to expect that kind of effort from his team.
“Our effort was still pretty good,” he said. “In the first half, we fell down a ways, but we were able to rally and cut it to five to close the first half. We were able to make some plays – I was proud of our resiliency.”
The game marked the return of one of the team’s leading scorers, DaShaun Harris, who had missed the team’s previous four games.
“He gave us a little bit of a spark again,” Feikema said. “It was nice to have him back.”
Harris scored seven points in his return.
Hastings had three players in double figures. Josh Monjeau led the team in scoring with 11 points. Darius Wilkerson had 10 and Quintan Weaver had 10.
Also scoring were: Ellis Williams, seven; Connor Raway, two; and Mitch Hoffman, two.
Early in the season, Hastings had a competitive non-conference schedule, but it certainly wasn’t as tough as things are in the SEC every week. Feikema was hoping, obviously, for a better start in conference play, but he knew it would be a bigger challenge.
“We knew conference play was going to be more difficult,” he said. “It has felt like, prior to the Christmas break, we were really playing well and getting after things. Since Christmas break, we haven’t played with the same type of focus. It’s not that we don’t play well – it’s that we don’t play well consistently.
“We’re having a difficult time putting together 36 minutes where everyone is focused and concentrating and doing what they need to do. We’ve had a couple stretches where we don’t defend. Where we don’t rebound. Things like that. We are capable of doing all those things.”
Against Woodbury on Jan. 17, Hastings fell behind right away, 10-2, as well. That same score reappeared in the Forest Lake game.
“We’re just inconsistent,” Feikema said. “We have to have the discipline to do things right all the time. Our guys are smart guys – they know what they need to do. Often times, we do them for 32 minutes instead of for 36.”
Hastings plays host to Roseville at 7:15 p.m. tonight (Thursday). Roseville is among the conference leaders this season, spring a 6-1 record coming into this week.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Hastings is at Mounds View and on Friday, Feb. 3, they are at Park. The Mustangs have a 5-2 league record and the Wolfpack has an 0-7 record.