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Boys basketball: Hastings has won five of its last six games

Nick Gmiterko drives to the basket during the first half of Tuesday's game against Cottage Grove. Hastings won the game and improved to 7-6 on the season.1 / 2
Hastings sophomore Darius Wilkerson goes in for two points at Tuesday night's game against Park of Cottage Grove. Hastings won the game.2 / 2

A new boys basketball rivalry was born last Tuesday night. Hastings ended up winning the first round, beating East Ridge 79-63 in a physical, hard-fought and technical-foul filled game.

"It was like we had been rivals for 30 years," Hastings coach Chad Feikema said. "It was a really physical game. I think part of (East Ridge's) plan was to try to be physical with Nick (Gmiterko) and Shane (Monjeau) and take them out of the game and get them frustrated. It maybe went a little too far. They got physical and, of course, our guys got a little heated about it."

East Ridge was whistled for two technical fouls and a flagrant foul. Twice, Hastings players reacted to hard fouls and received technical fouls.

In the first half, it was all Hastings. The Raiders went into halftime up 37-17.

"We really controlled the game defensively," Feikema said. "They have a number of guards who shoot the ball well. We closed out well. We were able to contest their shots. We just defended really well. We didn't do anything fancy. We just did a good job fundamentally."

It was during that first half that Gmiterko took a blow above his eye. He was forced to sit five to six minutes while the cut was patched up. Gmiterko apparently didn't let the injury slow him down much. He finished with 36 points to lead the Raiders.

"Most of his baskets came when he attacked the basket," Feikema said. "We posted him up some and he hit some jump shots, but he was attacking the basket well and got to the foul line a lot."

Gmiterko made 12 of 15 free throw attempts in the game.

The second half of the game was much different, as the Raptors ended up outscoring Hastings 46-42

"We talked at halftime about how East Ridge has guards who can shoot the ball well, and they're dangerous and that if we let up at all defensively, they could climb back into the game."

East Ridge did go on a run to start the second half, putting up eight unanswered points. Hastings stopped the run in time and went on to win.

Monjeau had 18 and was the only other Hastings player in double figures. Darius Wilkerson had eight points and nine rebounds. Also scoring were Mike Hill (6), Tony Hammes (5), Dan Guelle (3) and Ellis Williams (3).

Vs Park

Hastings beat Park on Tuesday night, 66-40. The win gets Hastings above .500 for the first time this season and means they've now won five of their last six games.

Hastings outscored Park 32-22 in the first half and 34-18 in the second half.

Heading into the games this week, Hastings is just a game out of first place. Forest Lake is among the conference leaders with just one loss. Hastings has just two Suburban East Conference losses.

Gmiterko had another strong game, finishing with 24 points. Monjeau had 18 and Wilkerson 10 to lead the Raiders.

Also scoring were: Guelle (2), Tony Hammes (2), Hill (6), Williams (3) and Josh Harstad (1).

Vs Roseville

Hastings won a close and entertaining game Friday in Roseville in front of a large and loud crowd. The final score was 69-68.

Hastings took an 8-2 lead to start the game and ended up holding a 37-33 halftime edge.

Hastings held an eight- to 10-point lead for much of the second half, but down the stretch Roseville made a run. Roseville took a lead with about 90 seconds to play after hitting a three-pointer. Hastings, though, countered with a three-pointer of its own. Hammes hit a shot on a set play and Hastings took a two-point lead. Hastings held on to win down the stretch.

"Roseville is a ridiculously athletic basketball team," Feikema said. "They had three dunks. They were quick. It was a very exciting game, and a big win for our team. To go on the road and beat a strong and athletic team like that, in that type of playoff atmosphere, was a very good sign."

Monjeau had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Raiders. Hammes had 11. Also in double figures were Hill and Wilkerson, each of whom had 10. Wilkerson had eight rebounds as well.

Gmiterko and Williams each had six points.

Hammes and Wilkerson each had four assists.