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Coach looks to carry momentum into next season

The Hastings girls' basketball team took a step forward this season when they won their first section playoff game against Park after losing in the opening round to Rosemount last year. Getting into the second round was a goal of the Raiders heading into this season.

"Going into the season we had team goals of winning the conference and getting to Hamline for the section semifinals and hopefully finals," head coach Padrick Judd said. "Now that the season has finished, you can see that we accomplished the goal of getting to Hamline. Even though we fell short of our goal to win the conference, the girls played well down the stretch and we still managed to win 15 games this season despite a tough schedule."

Hastings went 15-13 overall this season, including the playoffs, and finished second to Mahtomedi in the Metro East Conference with a 11-3 record in the MEC. Many of the Raiders' losses came from a grueling non-conference schedule that pitted them against powerhouses like Hopkins (who went undefeated in the regular season and lost to Elk River in the AAAA championship), Eastview (who took third-place in AAAA), Cretin-Derham Hall and East Ridge. While they lost most of those games, Judd said playing against that level of competition will only help in the future.

"We have the players to compete against most teams, but we have to play in control and not try to let other teams take us out of our game," Judd explained. "Good teams will do that to you, and that is what our players have to learn. Despite being a tough schedule, if our players learn from the games we played and grow from it, then it will show next year. I think these girls took a step in the right direction against Park in the playoffs and I am excited for next season. These girls are going to do well next year."

Looking back on the season, Judd said there were areas the team performed well in and others that need improvement.

"I think our team did a nice job against some of the elite teams in the state," Judd said. "We played well against some great teams and it seemed like our players brought a tough, competitive mindset in big game situations. We also did a nice job limiting our turnovers throughout the season and playing well in our half-court offense."

However, Judd did say that his team needs to handle ball pressure and adversity much better if they are to compete against the best.

"Our team did not perform well in full-court pressure situations," Judd said. "We need to get better at staying in control and not getting too eager to make plays. Being a younger team, this was expected, but we still need to become a better team when momentum swings happen."

Hastings was led in scoring and rebounding during the regular season by junior Krystal Carlson, who led the Raiders with 18.8 points per game (ppg) and 10 rebounds per game (rpg). Carlson recorded her 1,000th rebound and became Hastings' leading scorer for both boys' and girls' basketball this season. She also led the team with 3.6 steals per game (spg).

Freshman Mallory Brake averaged 13.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg, as well as a team leading 3.8 assists per game (apg) and 1.8 blocks per game (bpg). Sophomore Haylee Yaeger averaged 12.8 ppg and 7.7 rpg. The trio of Krystal Carlson, Mallory Brake and Yaeger accounted for almost 45 out of the Raiders 55 ppg.

Sophomore Megan Mattson and senior Tori Brake added 3.6 and 2.0 ppg respectively. Tori Brake also average 2.0 rpg, 3.1 apg and 1.8 spg.

Hastings graduates just four seniors after this season and will return most of this year's team next winter. Those seniors are Tori Brake, Danielle Hedman, Laura Church and Hayley Kazmierczak. Judd said that those seniors have truly achieved something special in their four years.

"Our seniors were dedicated to the team, worked hard in practice and were a big part of our success over the last few years," Judd said. "All of these seniors were two-time conference champions and they were a part of a new culture change in Hastings girls' basketball. I feel they should be very proud of what they have done to help change the program. They are great kids with great futures ahead of them and we will miss them."

Looking ahead to next season, Judd said his coaching staff will continue to make adjustments and the entire team will need to continue to develop over the offseason.

"Every off-season we look over every aspect of our program and re-evaluate what we are doing," Judd explained. "We will obviously make some adjustments to continue putting our players in spots to succeed in practice and in games. The summer skills and practices will also be a big part of these adjustments. Every player needs to step up next season. I think we have many girls that are capable of contributing next season; one thing for sure is that there will be some battles this summer and next season in practice. Our coaching staff is excited to see who wants to step up and fill the roles we are losing."

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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