The Hastings boys' basketball team started its season in exciting fashion this past weekend with two close wins at a tournament in Red Wing.
The Raiders beat Hudson (Wis.) 95-94 on Friday, Dec. 1, and won on a 3-pointer by junior forward Matt Schlottman with under 10 seconds left. They then beat Stewartville 69-65 on Saturday, Dec. 2, in the championship game where Schlottman hit key free throws at the end to help seal the victory.
"It was a fast-paced game, both teams played fast and shot a good percentage," head coach Chad Feikema said.
Hastings shot 55 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers in the game, had just nine turnovers, which in such a fast paced game is crucial, and moved the ball well to the tune of 24 assists.
Leading the Raiders was senior point guard Grant Hollar, who had 24 points and nine assists and according to Feikema was able to routinely get to the basket.
"I would argue, in his three years of playing varsity basketball, it was his best game," Feikema said.
Hudson matched Hastings offensively and made themselves very difficult to guard.
"If we closed out short they were knocking down threes and if we got out there quickly, they would put it on the floor and got to the rim on us. It was a little bit of a tough matchup for us in the sense that they are more guard oriented and we're taller and longer than we have been. So we had some of our taller, longer guys trying to guard their quicker guys and unfortunately our help-side (defense) was not as good as we would like it to be."
"Stewartville offered some different challenges, they had three players over 6-foot-6, so they had some size and one guy in particular was more physical, bigger," Feikema said.
They also provided some different looks, primarily a press that flowed into a 2-3 zone, that Feikema said his team had not had time to prepare for in the few practices they had before the tournament. While they were able to walk through how to handle it before the game, Feikema said you never know for sure how a team will handle it.
"Fortunately we did a really good job of attacking the 2-2-1 (press), we only had 11 turnovers and most of those turnovers came late," he explained. "The 2-3 zone, I thought we attacked it really well, guys passed the ball really well and we got some open shots."
The Raiders were up 40-22 at half and maintained a double-figure lead until late in the game.
"A couple of bad turnovers and a couple of big plays by them (Stewartville) got it as close as two (the lead) and Matt Schlottman made two free-throws with eight seconds to go to make the lead four and that was the finish," Feikema said.
Schlottman had 20 points against Stewartville and made six threes (6-of-13 from three) to go with his two free throws.
Hastings travels to Eagan on Saturday, Dec. 9.