VIRGINIA — The Virginia girls’ basketball team may have had some extra jitters Tuesday night playing in their 2019-2020 home opener. At halftime, they were up just 29-20 to a scrappy Greenway squad.
Those jitters seemed to dissipate in the second half as the Blue Devils took control and cruised to the 71-47 win at Roosevelt Gymnasium.
The Devils grabbed the first basket on a Lexiss Trygg layup assisted by Rian Aune. That duo connected more than a few times during the contest to help fuel the Virginia fire. That fire didn’t catch for a while, however, as the Devils were slow to get going offensively, taking the first shot they found as opposed to making the extra pass.
Back-to-back layups from Kaylee Iverson and Trygg a few minutes later made it 6-1 for the Devils. Trygg kept scoring, next on a turn-around jumper that made it 8-3 Virginia.
The Devils finally saw a three-pointer fall with Aune knocking one down from the top of the key to make it 11-3, forcing a Greenway timeout with 11:04 to go in the half.
The Raiders got back in on the action after the timeout with buckets from Bailey Jo Norris, Nichole Ramirez and Hailey Pederson making it 16-9 in favor of the Devils. Virginia senior Halee Zorman quieted the Greenway charge shortly after with a three to make it 19-9.
Virginia expanded their lead to as much as 13 late in the half but Greenway didn’t go down quietly in the beginning as Jadin Saville knocked down two threes in the last pair of Raiders possessions to put the halftime score at 29-20 in favor of Virginia. Trygg led all scorers at the half with 12 points.
At the half, Devils head coach Spencer Aune told his crew that taking the first open look isn’t the type of game they can find success with.
“I said we just had to get back to playing our game,” Aune said. “I thought we didn’t move the ball well enough on offense to get that wide open shot. We were taking the first “O.K.” shot instead of working the ball around until we found the better shot.”
While the Devils like to keep the tempo of the game up, Aune said going for the three on the first pass wasn’t working for a reason.
“We’re not as good when we have possessions that are as quick as the ones we were having. We want to take smart shots and sometimes you need to make an extra pass or two and we just weren’t doing that out there in the beginning.”
The Blue Devils heeded that message in the second half, out scoring the Raiders 42-27 the rest of the way. Aune continued to make the passes to Trygg in the post for the easy two points, allowing the 6-foot junior to finish with 23 points on the night.
Off the bench, sophomore Erin Haerer found herself in the right spot at the right time, hitting a pair of threes in a sequence of possessions that saw the Devils score 10 unanswered on the Raiders, putting them up 47-27 with just over 11 minutes to play. A few more baskets from Iverson and Trygg in the paint kept the Virginia offense rolling as they found themselves leading late, 57-33.
Anna fink hit her first three of the night two possessions later to put the Devils up 61-33 and then hit another near the end of the game to make it 68-40.
With the outcome of the game no longer in question, coach Aune put in the reserve and Virginia went on to win by a final score of 71-47.
Aside from Trygg’s 23, the Devils were paced by 13 points from Aune, 11 points for Iverson and 10 from Fink. Greenway was led in scoring by Pederson and Saville with eight apiece.
Getting the win, Aune said the second half looked much better than the first but he hopes his time can shake off some more rust before their next home game on Saturday.
“We were scrappy out there tonight and I love scrappiness. But I think a part of it is that early season rust. Things aren’t as smooth yet as we’d like them to be. I really loved the hustle out of us. We didn’t play our best game but the girls kept working hard and that’s how we’re going to get better.”
Looking ahead, Virginia is set to take on Moose Lake/Willow River on Saturday and Aune says they’ll need to come prepared offensively and defensively if they want to get a win from the Rebels.
“I want to see us move the ball better right away in the first half much like we did tonight in the second half. Moose Lake is a very good team and they have really good guard play so we’ll have to be there defensively. We need to square up and get into our stance quicker in order to play some better defense.”
Virginia’s bout with Moose Lake/Willow River is set to start at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Virginia.
GHS 20 27 — 47
VHS 29 42 — 71
Greenway: Kennedy Hanson 5, Bailey Jo Norris 5, Emmalee Oviatt 4, Taylor Hocking 4, Nichole Ramirez 5, Hailey Pederson 8, Morgan Walsh 6, Chloe Hansen 2, Jadin Saville 8; Three pointers: Hanson 1, Norris 1, Ramirez 1, Pederson 1, Walsh 2, Saville 2; Free throws: 9-17; Total fouls: 24; Fouled out: Ramirez.
Virginia: Anna Fink 10, Rian Aune 13, Halee Zorman 3, Lexiss Trygg 23, Kaylee Iverson 11, Macy Westby 1, Erin Haerer 8, Janie Potts 2; Three pointers: Fink 2, Aune 1, Zorman 1, Haerer 2; Free throws: 19-32; Total fouls: 14; Fouled out: none.
International Falls 57
At International Falls, the Golden Bears led by 13 with 11:28 to play and held on to beat a hard-charging Broncos squad, 62-57, in Eveleth-Gilbert’s season opener.
The win was the first for new E-G head coach Karwin Marks.
E-G hosts Cherry on Tuesday. Further details were not available as this edition went to press.