The Hastings boys' basketball started competition this past weekend with two games in a tournament at Red Wing High School. The Raiders played Hudson (Wis.) on Friday night and lost 94-68, and then beat Red Wing in the third-place game 63-60. One major development for Hastings' season is that they will be missing junior Devon Haraldson for the season after he suffered an injury on his way back from recovering from the knee-injury that occurred toward the end of the Raiders season last year. Hastings hosts Park for their home opener on Friday, Dec. 7.
Hastings' season opener against the Hudson Raiders definitely had its ups and downs as Hudson was perhaps the worst matchup for Hastings. Hastings is playing quite a few inexperienced players this season and in the season preview, head coach Chad Feikema said that one area of concern for the team this year was their defense against quick guards who are able to get to the basket. Well, Hudson featured a five-guard lineup of experience players who gave Hastings fits and seemed to win the rebounding battle despite Hastings' significant size advantage.
The game was even to start as Hastings held a slight lead a couple minutes in and was tied midway through the first half. They were able to score at will when they got the ball into the post to seniors Isaac Rabaey and Matt Schlottman, but turnovers were definitely a problem and would be the entire game. Hastings' shooting then went cold, especially from 3-point range, and Hudson was able to make a few critical 3-pointers for a 39-27 halftime lead. Hastings did not make a 3-pointer in the first half despite being a strong shooting team.
Hudson extended its lead to 50-33 to start the second half as Hastings struggled to handle the Raiders' aggressiveness. On the verge of a blowout, Hastings went to a full-court press that completely caught Hudson off-guard. Hudson went several minutes without scoring as the Hastings offense came alive again and after sophomore guard Japheth Gudissa hit the team's first 3-pointer of the game, they cut Hudson's lead to just four with 10 minutes left.
However, Hudson was able to adjust and routinely break the Hastings press from there on out to once again pull away. Hudson extended its lead to 23 with six minutes left and eventually Hastings lost 94-68.
After the game, Feikema said that his team's inexperience at the guard spots showed.
"I think some of the guys who were new to the varsity experience were kind of caught off-guard a little bit by a team that is coming back with a lot of experience, five returning starters," he said. "I don't know how many turnovers we had yet, but I'm sure it was over 20 and maybe closer to 30. Kind of a wake-up call for some of our younger guys, but from an encouraging standpoint, Isaac (Rabaey) had 21 and put up a good game. I think he's going to be able to dominate on the inside."
While the press Hastings put on helped them get back in the game before Hudson adjusted, Feikema said it was more about how Hudson handled it at the start than his team necessarily executing it at a high level. Once Hudson was able to settle down and adjust, they handled the press easily and breaking it helped them rebuild their lead.
"They came back out of a timeout once it got to four and just kind of stopped making those mistakes," he said. "Then they got into the half-court and we continued to make the same mistakes in the half-court that we made in the half-court before, especially where our eyes go when we're not in front of the ball."
One final area that Feikema emphasized his team needs to get better in, and will help solve a lot of problems, is having a sense of urgency.
"We've got some guys who have to learn a little bit, the word that we used was urgency," he said. "We didn't have guys play with enough urgency in terms of how we cut, how we pass the ball, defensively in terms of how much pressure we need to put on the ball, how well we moved our feet, jumping to the basketball. We made a lot of mistakes that are probably to be expected from our inexperienced guys but we'll get better at it."
Rabaey led Hastings with 21 points, followed by senior Sully Levos who had 16 and Schlottman with 13. Gudissa had six points on two 3-pointers (which was half of Hastings' made 3-pointers) as well as senior Brian Nielsen. Juniors Dylan Wagner and Trey Swanson both added three points.