Raiders nearly upset HuskiesWith 2:42 to play in Wednesday night’s section basketball game between Hastings and Owatonna, the score was 53-50. The second-seeded Huskies led the seventh-seeded Raiders by a slim margin, and it appeared as though the game was going to be close coming down the stretch.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
With 2:42 to play in Wednesday night’s section basketball game between Hastings and Owatonna, the score was 53-50. The second-seeded Huskies led the seventh-seeded Raiders by a slim margin, and it appeared as though the game was going to be close coming down the stretch.
As it was, Hastings didn’t score the rest of the way, and Owatonna went on to win, 59-50.
Hastings had a couple shots to tie the game 53-53, but the shots didn’t fall down the stretch. Owatonna hit its free throws and escaped with the win.
“We went in believing we could win,” coach Chad Feikema said. “I think our guys played like they believed they could win. They played their tails off. It was a great effort. Anybody who was in the gym had to walk away impressed with our team.”
Hastings led for most of the first half, building a seven-point lead with under a minute to play in the first half. Just before the halftime buzzer sounded, though, Owatonna hit a three-pointer to trim the lead to four.
“That was a big shot,” Feikema said. “That kind of swung the momentum in their favor.”
Out of halftime, Owatonna cut into that lead and took the lead. Hastings fought back and trailed by just three with a minute to play.
“It was a one-possession game with a minute to play,” Feikema said. “It was an even matchup.”
Owatonna earned its No. 2 seed with a 21-6 record. Hastings, meanwhile, had a much more challenging schedule and a less impressive record of 8-18.
“We’re talking about a team that is 21-6,” Feikema said. “The fact that it was an even matchup says a lot about our conference. It says a lot about our schedule. If you compare the records, you would think that it shouldn’t be that kind of game. The only difference was a play here and a play there. A shot here and a shot there.”
Feikema praised his team’s effort in the game and throughout the season.
“I was really proud of our effort, certainly in the game (Wednesday) night, but throughout the season, too,” he said. “The guys were resilient. By and large, they played with a lot of effort and overcame a lot of things throughout the season.”
Hastings lacked both size and outside shooting prowess this season, a tough combination to overcome. The Raiders had a starting lineup that averaged under 6 feet tall, and the team shot just 26 percent from behind the three-point arc.
“We’re small, and we didn’t shoot well from the three-point line,” Feikema said. “Our guys still competed really well in a lot of games.”
Darius Wilkerson led Hastings in scoring in the game, scoring 20 points.
“It was a solid all-around game for him,” Feikema said. “He had a solid all-around season. We ask a lot of him. He’s our leading scorer, our leading rebounder, he leads us in steals and blocked shots and he was second in assists. What doesn’t he do?”
Josh Monjeau had a strong game, too, scoring nine points.
“Josh is our primary ballhandler,” Feikema said. “He’s not very big, but he’s like the Energizer bunny. He’s got tremendous effort. What you see from him on game night is what you see from him in practice. That’s the same way with Darius. They play like that every day. Practices. Games. That’s why they were able to continue to improve during their career.”
Ellis Williams was tasked with defending Owatonna’s top player, guard Drew Osmundson. Williams held him to just seven points, four of which were scored on free throws down the stretch.
“Ellis really stepped up defensively again,” Feikema said.
Ben Carlson scored six points in the effort.
“He really stepped up here late in the year,” Feikema said. “He was making some big shots for us. I was really happy he was able to find his niche like that.”
Mitch Hoffman didn’t score, but he had a strong season for the team.
“He’s got a lot of energy, too,” Feikema said. “He was a great team player throughout the season.”
Quintan Weaver had eight points, too, all coming inside. DaShaun Harris and Connor Raway were also contributors.
Those eight players (Wilkerson, Monjeau, Williams, Carlson, Hoffman, Weaver, Harris and Raway) are all seniors.
“Those eight seniors, they all played key varsity roles this year,” Feikema said. “Everybody who played significant minutes this year was a senior.”