The Hastings girls’ basketball program is on its third head coach in three years as Scott Addyman takes over for the 2019-2020 season. Perhaps the biggest change will be the product on the court with the Raiders upping the energy with a fast speed of play and adopting a more modern style of basketball.

“The difference from last year to this year will be, looking at our team we have a bunch of girls who are in pretty good shape, pretty good conditioning, they look like track athletes,” Addyman said. “So what I’m doing is taking a basketball style that fits our kids, we have a lot of kids who can get up and down the floor, we have a lot of kids who can run and finish at the rim, so that’s the style we’re bringing in. We want to create an advantage on the floor where we’re getting by the defense and keeping that advantage as long as we can.”

The Raiders are a mix of seasoned veterans and girls who are new to the varsity experience. Returners who saw significant varsity time last year are senior Mallory Brake, junior Shea Levos, junior Avery Daley, sophomore Lilly Nuytten and senior Emily Biscoe.

“I think it’s really healthy for our team to have a few girls who are returning and a few girls who are new to the varsity experience,” Addyman said. “It kind of creates that hunger for playing time, gives chances for girls like Mallory and a few other kids to step up as leaders, which I think is really good for the team. It’s just a really good balance and gives us a chance to grow in so many different ways.”

Hastings’ up-and-down style is partially dictated by personnel. The Raiders do not have much height and or prototypical post players that many teams usually feed down low. Brake is their most effective post player but she will play all over the floor.

“Yeah we’ve got a lot of guards, so attacking the rim is probably one of our biggest strengths. We don’t have a ton of true posts, we don’t have centers, we have a couple kids who I might call power forwards who might be in by the block but can also be used as a guard,” Addyman said. “The fact that we can transition or swap kids in-and-out between positions is going to be huge. When games are going during the season, we’re going to be able to scheme as a coaching staff to be able to pick mismatches that are on the floor and get the ball into certain situations that will give us an advantage.”

Sophomore Lilly Nuytten is one of several key young players for the Raiders. This is her third year on varsity and could be set for a big leap. Photo courtesy of Beck Photography
Sophomore Lilly Nuytten is one of several key young players for the Raiders. This is her third year on varsity and could be set for a big leap. Photo courtesy of Beck Photography

That lack of size down low could mean trouble in the rebounding department, but that’s an area that Addyman said he’s not worried about … at least right now. He said he believes his players will rebound, but that they have not had the chance to really dive into it in practice over the first week-and-a-half.

“I also think that the style of offense that we’re running, it will lend itself because we’ll be getting a lot of layups and a lot of open shots, I think we’ll have the chance to get a lot of weak-side rebounds that are put back up for layups,” he said.

Overall, Addyman said that the girls are adapting to the new changes well.

“It’s fun to watch them carry these concepts onto the basketball court, because when they start to see things clicking and when things start working, they just light up with big, giant smiles because we have really smart girls as well,” he said. “For them to be able to read the defense and go to the areas of the floor that are open, the path of least resistance a lot of times, they’re able to see that and when they’re able to attack and make something happen, it’s just a very fluid play of basketball and they’re really enjoying it.”

Over their first few games, Addyman said that he and his coaching staff will be focusing on two things, how they look on defense and what kind of offense they are generating. The Raiders were primarily a 2-3 zone defensive team under Padrick Judd for years and last year under Joe Lynch was many of their first times playing man-to-man at the varsity level. So Addyman said they will be keeping a close eye on how the team is progressing defensively. Second, are the girls getting in the right kind of offensive actions? What kind of shots are they taking, are they good high-percentage shots?

There are not many changes in the Raiders’ schedule this winter. The biggest is they will play in a holiday tournament in Roseville and they will continue to play a challenging non-conference slate.

Hastings lost their season and home opener to the East Ridge Raptors on Saturday, Nov. 23, 59-56. The Raiders have a challenging non-conference matchup on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at home against Rosemount. The Irish have state tournament ambitions this season. The rest of their non-conference games are at St. Croix Lutheran, Park and Prescott and home against Hudson, Eagan and Burnsville as well as the Roseville tournament.