Raider girls' basketball beats Simley to stay one game behind Mahtomedi
The Hastings girls' basketball team started their week with a one-point loss (49-48) to neighbor Park of Cottage Grove, but then held on to beat Simley 59-50 in order to stay one game behind Mahtomedi in the Metro East Conference. The Raiders have a .500 record at 11-11 overall, but remain one game behind the Zephyrs with a record of 8-2 in the MEC.
Hastings had a 13-point lead over the Wolfpack going into the second half with the score 27-14. However, Park came back and won 49-48.
"We played a fantastic first half, probably our best since the beginning of the year in terms of executing and running things well," head coach Padrick Judd said. "Then they hit some shots, put a little pressure on us and we couldn't respond for some reason, which was obviously a disappointment for us."
Hastings shot under 33 percent for the game from the field (15-of-46), were just 2-of-10 on 3-pointers, and made only 16-of-27 free throws. The points left out there cost the Raiders in a game decided by such a slim margin.
A silver lining from the game was that junior Krystal Carlson grabbed her 1,000th rebound as a Raider and will soon become the Hastings girls' basketball program's leading scorer.
Krystal Carlson led all scorers in the game with 25 points, as well as 11 rebounds for the double-double, two assists, three blocks and two steals. Mallory Brake had seven points and 10 rebounds while Haylee Yaeger also had seven points and five rebounds. Megan Mattson added five points and Tori Brake four.
Hastings hosted Simley, Friday, Feb. 10, while the Spartans were coming off a win over conference-leader Mahtomedi. Before the game, Krystal Carlson was honored for surpassing 1,000 rebounds and was awarded a plaque by the team.
"Credit to her, she works so hard, we call her the 'human vacuum' when it comes to rebounding," Judd said. "Luckily we have her for a whole 'nother year after this, a very special night for her."
Both teams got off to a slow start, but the Raiders were able to turn it on toward the end of the half to take a 26-19 lead into halftime. From there on, the Raiders fought to protect their lead but were unable to extend it until late in the second half. Simley would make a run to make the game close but then Hastings would answer. In the final minutes, the Raiders took advantage of their free-throw opportunities to open up their lead and went on to win 59-50.
"We got off to kind of a slow start, but at the end of the half we picked it up a little bit and caught them off-guard a little with some pressure to end the half," Judd explained. "But after that, the team that rebounded scored the points and every time we got an offensive put-back we built the lead and they did the same thing. In the end we found a way to win."
While the Raiders struggled at times to finish in the paint and missed several layups and shots from close range, they were able to force their way to the free-throw line and make 24 free throws over the course of the game. They made nine more free throws than Simley attempted and that disparity helped them hold onto their lead throughout the second half.
Krystal Carlson once again led all scorers with 24 points to go along with nine rebounds, five assists, eight steals and a block. Mallory Brake had 14 points and 10 rebounds, as well as two assists, two steals and four blocks. Yaeger had 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Five other Raiders scored: Mattson added three points; CiCi Carlson, Megan Tietjen and Caprice Van Den Assem each had two; and Tori Brake had one point.
Hastings has four games left, all in the MEC and three on the road. Should the Raiders win out, they are guaranteed at least a share of the MEC championship and would most likely end up in a tie with Mahtomedi. They could win the MEC outright if they win out and the Zephyrs drop just one more conference game.
The Hastings girls traveled Tuesday, Feb. 14, to North St. Paul and will head to Tartan, Friday, Feb. 17.