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Despite best efforts, basketball team loses pair of games

Amidst a very challenging season for the Hastings boys basketball team, there has been one very bright spot: the play of junior Darius Wilkerson.

Wilkerson has been playing his best basketball lately, and his statistics prove it.

He leads the Raiders in scoring. He leads the Raiders in rebounds. He leads the Raiders in assists. He leads the team in blocked shots, and he's second on the team in steals (trailing the team leader by just two).

"He has been exceptional," coach Chad Feikema said. "He has worked his tail off and led by example. He's doing everything he can possibly do."

Wilkerson doesn't just have a slight edge on his teammates in most categories. As of last week, he had 69 rebounds. The next-best player in that category had 28. Wilkerson, a forward, had 26 assists as of last week. The second-ranking player in that category had 14.

"It's almost impossible to ask him to do anything more than he's already doing," Feikema said. "He has been fantastic."

Wilkerson led the Raiders in scoring in last week's 82-50 loss to White Bear Lake. He had 16 points, but the high-powered Bears were too much for the Raiders.

"That was a really physical game," Feikema said. "They were very big compared to us. They had a big, physical guy in the middle. We had a hard time handling him. We ended up with a lot of fouls called on us."

Two Hastings players fouled out of the game.

The game, though, was tight through the first 10 minutes, with Hastings holding a one-point lead. From that point on, though, it was all White Bear.

"Basketball teams make runs," Feikema said. "You have to be able to respond to a run and make a run of your own. We were not able to do that. Things got away from us, and we didn't respond.

"I think that we get a little discouraged when things don't go our way. To me, a big part of it just comes down to mental toughness. Just being able to fight back."

Tony Hammes finished with 15 points and was the only other player in double figures for Hastings.

Also scoring were: Ellis Williams 8, Josh Monjeau 5, Ben Carlson 2, Jake Koenig 2 and Jon Sindt 2.

Vs. Hudson

Hastings lost to Hudson last week, 54-46.

Hastings had just 23 points with six minutes left to go in the second half. By game's end, the team had doubled that output.

"We finally counterpunched and we finally played with some fire and intensity," Feikema said. "We were able to create some things, but it was a little late.

"It was kind of a frustrating game."

Monjeau led Hastings in scoring with 14 points. Hammes had 10, Wilkerson had 7, Matt Anderson had 4, Ellis Williams had 3, Mike Hubley had 4, Aaron Stevens had 2 and Koenig had 2.