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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Most players start AAU as a way to play more basketball, face better competition and improve their skills. However, as they come closer and closer to the end of their high school basketball careers, many of them realize that they want to play basketball at the next level in college. While Division I college basketball garners most of the attention with full-ride scholarships, all levels of college basketball recruit and offer some sort of scholarship or potential position on the team. For those who do want to play college basketball, there are many more options than people may realize.
The Hastings boys' and girls' cross-country teams ran their first meet of the season Friday, Sept. 1, in Rosemount at the 16th annual Irish Invite. The Irish Invite is one of the largest, if not the largest, meet that the Raiders will compete in all year, with 24 teams competing in the boys' varsity division and 22 in the girls. The Raider boys took 17th out of 24 teams and had three runners place in the top 100. The girls' team placed 20th and had one runner in the top 20. The meet was a 2-mile race, while most cross-country races are usually 5 kilometers, or just over 3 miles.
Winning a championship is hard, repeating is even more difficult, and then there is what the Miesville Mudhens accomplished Labor Day. The Mudhens played four games in three days and won two games on Monday, coming up from the consolation bracket to secure their second-straight Minnesota Baseball Association Class B state tournament championship.
The Hastings Raiders lost a low-scoring game to the Hill-Murray Pioneers 7-6 Friday night, Sept. 8, in Maplewood. Despite losing where it matters, on the scoreboard, the Raiders dominated in just about every statistical category. Both teams had their only scores come in the first quarter. Hastings struck first on a four-yard touchdown run by senior wide receiver T.J. Pottinger., but they failed to convert the extra point and led 6-0. Just over a minute later, Hill-Murray scored on a 70-yard touchdown run by Liam Lannon and converted the extra point to lead 7-6, which would be the final.
Hastings’ season opener against Henry Sibley was a grind-it-out game fought in the trenches between two very good offensive lines. The Raiders won 13-6 over the Warriors thanks to a tremendous defensive effort that stifled Henry Sibley’s running game and slowed down their passing attack just enough to get stops.
The Hastings girls' tennis team seems to be trying to play as much tennis as possible before the start of the conference season. The Raiders have played nine duals so far, with one more rained out, over the course of three invitationals and a single dual. While their record is just above .500 at 5-4, they have played teams all across the size spectrum.
The Miesville Mudhens seem to be unstoppable as they continue to advance in the Minnesota Baseball Association's class B state tournament. The Mudhens won two more games this past week to advance to the state tournament semifinals and extended their winning streak to 24 straight games.
The Hastings girls' swimming and diving team opened their 2017 season against Farmington and it would be tough to ask for a closer result. Farmington narrowly edged out the Raiders 95-89 and both teams won six events apiece. Despite the result, head coach Katie McAlpin said her team had some great performances.
The Hastings Walleye first home game at Hastings Civic Arena against the Blaine Lycans can be described by one word: spectacle. The team and crowd were dressed in the bright blueish-purple and gold of the Walleye, which contrasted with the bright green of the turf they played on. Over 200 community members, families and youth lacrosse players gathered to watch the first-ever indoor box lacrosse game played in Hastings, where they proved to be a raucous crowd.
AAU basketball has exploded in popularity and with the positives come the negatives. Its reputation is far from sterling and has just as many detractors as supporters. Kobe Bryant believes it is bad for basketball, claiming it does not develop fundamentals and the right skills. Others say that AAU promotes the individual and is detrimental to team play and learning how to win as a team.