Raiders make memories, take fourth place at state


photo courtesy of Tony Schreck @ABSPhoto • The Roseville Area High School girls basketball team finished out this year’s AAAA state tournament with a fourth-place finish. It was the Raiders first state berth since 2007.

photo courtesy of Tony Schreck @ABSPhoto • Sophomore forward Jayda Johnston was named to the 2018 Class AAAA Minnesota State Girls’ Basketball All-Tournament team.

The Roseville Area High School girls basketball team and its fans enjoyed some March madness of their own, and now the girls’ trip to the state basketball tournament is a wrap.

The Raiders finished fourth and contributed a player to the 2018 Class AAAA Minnesota State Girls’ Basketball All-Tournament team.

“The team feels very good about their accomplishments,” said head coach Jeff Crosby. “They had a blast!”

This was the first time in more than a decade that the Raiders made it to state, and the fourth-place finish was markedly better than that last tournament berth. Finishing out the 2006-2007 season, a 15-13 Raiders team was knocked out in the first round by eventual champion St. Paul Central.

This time around, the unseeded Raiders topped third-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall 56-48 in a March 14 first round game at Target Center. 

In the win over Cretin, sophomore forward Jayda Johnston scored an efficient 16 points and contributed 8 rebounds. Johnston was named to the ten-player AAAA all-tournament team by a panel of coaches.

Crosby, who’s been Raiders head coach for nine years, said the girls’ focused performance against Cretin stood out to him. 

Advancing to the next round of the tournament, the Raiders faced the Hopkins Royals, a perennial hoops powerhouse that Crosby said “rattled” his team. 

Hopkins jumped out to a 21-point lead after the first half of that March 15 game and never looked back, defeating Roseville 61-34 and sending the girls to the third-place game to be played at Concordia University.

Crosby said the girls bounced back and played together March 17 against Lakeville North High School, but third place wasn’t to be. In a tight finish with both teams trading baskets for much of the second half, the Panthers hit their free throws in the end and closed out the Raiders, 51-46.

Johnston led Roseville with 12 points.

Though the season ended with back-to-back losses, the Raiders still finished with a record of 23-9, topping 20 wins on the season for the seventh-straight year.

Roseville should be able to build on this year’s success. Crosby said the team had a nice run, playing with confidence in the section tournament and against Cretin. With just one senior on the fourth-place winning roster, many players on next season’s team will be a year older, and a year wiser. Still, Crosby said, the team has room to grow.

“We have a lot of talent returning,” he said, “but we have to get better at many aspects of the game, as a team and as individuals.”

Asked for his takeaway from his first trip to state as Raiders head coach, Crosby was succinct: “The experience and making memories!”

 

The 2017-2018 Roseville Raiders girls basketball team was, per the Minnesota State High School League roster; ninth-graders Ava Benson, Trista Grundtner, Rai’Janee Meadows and Tamia Ugass; sophomores Simone Hall, Josie Haug, Demaiyah Hill, Jada Hood, Tianna Iserman, Johnston, Penelope Jones and Reilly Parker; juniors Drea Barnes, Sam Betterman, captain Kaylee Nelson, Rachel Stifter and Elaina Witt; and senior Sarah Hvidhyld.

Beyond Crosby, the coaching staff included assistant coaches Sam Jordan, Scott Hoeg and Scott Lauinger. The student managers were Breonna Adams and McKenna Hughes.


 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813

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