Prep girls basketball: Grand Rapids’ Hamling shoots away a case of the Mondays
The sophomore guard hit five first half 3-pointers to keep the Thunderhawks in the game while her teammates found their rhythm.
DULUTH — Everyone hates Mondays and not even one of the best basketball teams in the area is immune.
Grand Rapids struggled to get going in its game at Duluth East Monday, trailing for much of the first half before pulling away from the Greyhounds for a 69-53 win.
Coach Kris Hamling said her team hadn’t played on a Monday so far this season and she thought it showed.
“I think our offense was discombobulated a little bit,” coach Hamling said. “We weren’t setting good picks, we weren’t coming off of it hard. Defensively, we were a couple seconds behind what we wanted to do.”
Fortunately, the Thunderhawks have junior Taryn Hamling to help out when they struggle. Hamling — averaging better than 40% from 3-point range this season — hit five from long range in the first half and scored 19 of Grand Rapids’ 30 first half points.
The Greyhounds tried their “red on Hamling,” strategy, according to Duluth East coach Rich Windt, in an attempt to deny Hamling the ball at all times.
“We ran three different players at her and then tried to double-team her as much as we can,” Windt said. “But she can shoot, I mean she can shoot it from half-court and everybody knows it.”
The Thunderhawks took a two-point lead into the locker room, but instead of coming out firing from deep in the second half, Hamling looked to get her teammates involved.
“Their shots started falling,” Hamling said. “I was looking for Jess (Lofstrom) because I know she can finish under pressure and I was looking for Braya (LaPlante) because I know she was hitting her shot. So I was trying to distribute more because I know they were guarding me a little harder.”
Hamling led all scorers with 25 points, but Lofstrom finished with 18 and LaPlante had 15 after the two combined for just six first-half points.
Hamling has stepped up this season as one of the best scorers in the area. Not only is she averaging 22 points a game and shooting well from long range, she’s also averaging nearly 90% from the free-throw line and better than 45% from the field.
“She’s always been a shooter,” coach Hamling said. “She spent many hours in the gym — I guess her sister kind of started it. She was a great scorer herself and Taryn watched her be in the gym all the time and just followed in her footsteps.”
Sister Heaven Hamling was named the News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year in 2018 and is currently averaging 13.6 points per game playing for North Dakota State, a program to which Taryn has committed as well.
Greyhounds play up ‘connection’
Duluth East’s Ashlynne Guenther scored 19 and Rachel Hagen scored 18, but no other Greyhound scored more than six points in the loss.
“We try to run a lot of two-man between them,” Windt said. “Whether they’re screening and rolling for each other or when we go to our ‘41 low,’ which is keeping Rachel away from the ball with Ash driving the ball looking to score or kick it to Rachel in that little box.”
Guenther said she and Hagen have played together for many years and that’s led to a good dynamic on the court.
“We’ve been playing ball together for 10 years, so we go back a while,” Guenther said. “We play together year-round, we know each other’s game. So there’s just kind of a connection there between both of us.”
The Greyhounds are also dealing with injuries right now. Two starters, Macey DeRosier and Sydney Zwak, have been dealing with ankle injuries and both tried to play through the pain Monday. DeRosier is averaging better that 47% from 3-point range and Zwak is averaging just over seven rebounds a game, Windt said.
“A lot of girls would have sat on the sidelines and said to heck with it, but not these two,” Windt said. “They’re sucking it up, they’re team players and that’s the what we like.”
Duluth East (7-10) will host Bemidji at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Grand Rapids (15-2) will host Proctor at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.