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Well-rounded Whitney Randall stays sharp for Tigers

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
FHSU's Whitney Randall scores down low on Thursday against Newman.

Shooting more 3-pointers wasn't necessarily a priority for Whitney Randall heading into the season, but the senior forward hasn't been afraid to pull the trigger from deep when open. 

Heading into Saturday, Randall had 22 3-pointers in 14 games for the Tigers, already seven more than she hit in all of a 30-game season last year. 

She made two more treys as part of her 16-point performance in the No. 11-ranked Tigers' 68-50 win against Newman on Thursday at Gross Memorial Coliseum. 

"Honestly, I wasn't too focused on it at the beginning," Randall said of shooting threes. "But we lost Lanie (Page), Kacey (Kennett), Taylor (Rolfs), and their strengths were how well they could shoot the outside shot. With losing them, I think it just opened everything up for me.

"Rather than just kind of focusing down low, I started taking more shots in practice and saw that they'd go in a little bit. It just gave me the confidence to shoot them in the game."

After going 0-for-12 from three in a 3-game stretch last month, Randall has hit at least one trey in each of the last six games, going 13 of 27 in that span. She's 22 of 70 from 3 on the season. 

"She's a 40 percent 3-point shooter; she isn't shooting that high, but she just had a couple games in there where she couldn't get one," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. "She's going to get a lot of open threes, because playing the 4-spot, a lot of times they don't get out on her."

Randall, an Alva, Okla., native, is second on the team in scoring with 15.8 points, reaching double figures in all but one game. 

She was one rebound short of a double-double against Newman with nine boards, which was what Hobson liked most about her game on Thursday. 

" Saturday against Kearney she was pretty tired, played tired, did not have a rebound, and (Thursday) she has nine," Hobson said. "She definitely has the ability to be a good rebounder, she just has to concentrate and focus on the boards every time. I just think she had more energy (Thursday), so she rebounded the ball really well, too."

Tigers overcome sub-par outing 

After back-to-back wins over previously unbeaten Nebraska-Kearney, Hobson didn't think his team played with the same fire on Thursday.

Newman (3-11) led 24-23 in the second quarter but a 9-0 run helped the Tigers gain control and FHSU maintained a comfortable double-digit lead in the second half. 

"We did not have the edge that we've had the last four games, at least, and I don't know why," Hobson said. "But it's human nature to have that little letdown; you don't want to have it happen. I don't know if flat is the right word. The kids were trying to play hard but if you don't play with that edge things don't go as smooth. 

"When you don't play with that fear of being able to get beat inside of you, sometimes you don't play with that edge. I think that's what I saw, they kind of had a feeling they could get (Newman) one way or another and didn't play with an edge like normal."

FHSU, winners of seven straight, moved to 12-2 and remained in a virtual tie for first place in the MIAA with Central Missouri (13-2) and Nebraska-Kearney (13-2). 

"As a team, honestly we were all a little lethargic today, especially after the two big wins last week," Randall said after the game. " .. We just have to have the mindset that we need to win every game and we can't take anyone lightly, because every game people are going to be coming after us."

Cydney Bergmann added 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal, while Olivia Hollenbeck had 4 steals to along with 9 points and 4 boards.

The Tigers recorded 22 assists. Jaden Hobbs had six and Katie Wagner dished out five, while Randall and Madison Mittie had three each. 

FHSU's bench helped give the starters a rest in the second half. 

"I think that was essential because we have five games in 10 days coming up," Randall said. "I think we're going to need (the bench) a lot in these upcoming games. Because people are going to be tired; Jaden plays dang near 40 minutes. We're really going to need our bench to step up. I'm really proud of them, the way they're playing and shooting the ball. Emma Ruddle gets in and guards the point guard. She really gets in em', hit a 3. Lauryn (Reither) had a great and-one. Jessie (Salach is) doing great. I'm really proud of them."

Hollenbeck and Sallach combined for 18 points in the post, each scoring nine.

"Jessie has a really nice fadeaway shot going back to her left," Hobson said. "It took us a semester to get her to shoot it, but she's a good shooter. She can get it off against about anybody. 

"Olivia was really efficient tonight. She made a couple of nice post moves in there. Between the two of them, they took 10 shots, made seven and got to the line six times. Pretty efficient for 25 minutes."

The Tigers were set to pla host to Central Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Saturday following the men's game.