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Raiders hope to rebound after getting beat on the boards

Rebounds are one of those stats that basketball coaches typically spend a lot of time obsessing about. Among those, offensive rebounds are studied in depth.

Hastings coach Chad Feikema was busy this week looking at those numbers, and he didn't like what he saw.

Hastings has been outrebounded 282-212 on the season. The Raiders have given up 108 offensive rebounds, and have only got 64 of their own. That deficit is troublesome, but not necessarily unexpected.

"We've just had a hard time keeping the bigger teams off the boards," Feikema said.

Against East Ridge on Friday, for example, Hastings was outrebounded in a 73-43 loss. The Raptors have a 6-8 center, a 6-5 forward and a 6-9 player who comes in off the bench. East Ridge had 21 offensive rebounds and conversely was able to get up 70 shots.

"They were so much bigger than us," Feikema said. "We had a terrible time keeping them off the boards. Our initial defense was pretty good, but we couldn't finish the possession off by getting rebounds and getting the ball back."

Hastings, meanwhile, has one person listed at 6-3 and nobody taller.

"Right now, we've got three guys on every possession, and it's a different three guys every possession, who are boxing out well," Feikema said. "We are missing one or two guys. We're still adjusting to the physicality of the game at the varsity level. I think our guys will get better at that as we go forward."

The encouraging aspect of the season thus far for Hastings is that three sophomores are starting, and those three sophomores are leading the team in scoring.

Sam Skoyen is averaging 20 points per game. Craig Nielsen is averaging 11 and Joe Dittrich is averaging almost 8 per game.

In the loss to the Raptors, Skoyen finished with 13 and Dittrich had 12. Nielsen had 6.

Also scoring were: Ross Dylla, 4; Alex Zuzek, 3; Drew Pottinger, 4; and Bryce Garvey, 1.

While Hastings lost by 30, Feikema saw all kinds of encouraging signs. Hastings trailed by two at 14-12 early in the game. The game stayed relatively close throughout the first half, and with a minute to go Hastings trailed by just 10 and the Raiders had the ball with a chance to cut the lead to seven or eight points. After a missed shot, though, he Raptors got the ball, scored, forced a turnover and scored again to close out the half on a five-point run. They led by 15 at halftime.

Hastings has now lost four games in a row. The team's last win came Dec. 21 against Park. The Raiders are 2-6 on the season, but Feikema remains optimistic about the end of the season and the future.

"Like I told our team, I like where we are going," he said. "This is all part of the process. We don't have anybody back from last year who averaged a point a game. We have a new lineup. We're playing three sophomores. We're playing in the SEC. We're going to have nights where we play well, and nights where we struggle. On the nights we struggle, it will be against bigger guys.

"I've seen our guys improve in those areas so far and I fully expect we will continue to improve in those areas. Our future is bright."

Vs Burnsville

Hastings lost to Burnsville on Dec. 28 in the final round of the tournament here, 82-68.

Nielsen led Hastings in scoring with 24 points. Dittrich had 15 and Skoyen had 10. Also scoring were: Alex Wiese, 3; Chris Webb, 2; Dylla, 5; Pottinger, 5; and Garvey, 4.

Vs Mahtomedi

Hastings lost to Mahtomedi in the first round of the tournament here, 76-40.

"They've got a really good team," Feikema said. "They had some matchups that we had a difficult time with inside."

Skoyen led Hastings in scoring with 17 points. Wiese had 4; Brandon McCarthy had 2; Pottinger had 7; Dittrich had 6; Nielsen had 4.

Vs Stillwater

Hastings lost to Stillwater on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 81-44.

This time it was Garvey's time to lead the team in scoring. He had 11 points and was the only Hastings player in double figures.

Here is how the rest of the scoring went: Zach Wiese, 9; Webb, 2; Dylla, 2; Skoyen, 7; Pottinger, 2; Tyler Sylvester, 3; Dittrich, 2; Carson Whyle 2; Nielsen, 4.