The Warrior basketball teams recently concluded their 2021-2022 seasons. Both the men’s and women’s team coaches are proud of their players’ efforts to take on some tough teams and forge ahead despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Men’s Basketball Recap
The 2021-22 Ridgewater Men’s Basketball season was a tale of two seasons for Head Coach Nate Thooft, who was entering his 5th season as Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Ridgewater College.
The 2021 season saw a roster full of athletes from all over the world including from the states of Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, and Mississippi. Outside of the United States, athletes from Australia and Canada rounded out Coach Thooft’s 2021-22 roster. The Warrior men opened up there season by going 10-1 in there first 11 games which included a clean 4-0 sweep against opponents from the northern division of the MCAC.
Following the first part of the season, the Warrior men came back after holiday break with a record of 10-2, and with the conference season in full tilt, Coach Thooft had his team well positioned for another MCAC conference tournament appearance. “We had started the season off really well. We were very bought into our systems offensively and defensively and were executing at a high level. The team was growing closer and we were having consistent effort. We had freshmen step into roles early and help lay a foundation for the season.”
However, the second part of the season was met with many different challenges including injuries that would ultimately derail the Warriors season. Ultimately, the Warriors finished one game back of the 4th seed in the MCAC, and Head Coach Nate Thooft had this to say about the 2nd part of the Warriors season. “Our team faced a fair amount of adversity this season, but I give a lot of credit to our players and assistant coaches for focusing on the things we can control and still improving throughout the season. Our leaders were really challenged to step up and find a way to be effective through uncertain circumstances and they did a fairly good job. We were 8 possessions away from being a playoff team, we just needed to value a few more possessions and practices and we are very happy with the season. DJ Brown was extremely consistent throughout the year and it really shows in his improvement in his numbers and with his decision making. We had guys who bought in for the whole season and they are really going to benefit in the future.”
Although the 2021-22 season ended without a MCAC Conference tournament appearance, the Warrior season had plenty of memorable moments from highlight plays to incredible finishes including a DJ Brown (Pensacola, FL) half-court buzzer beater to end the season against M-State Fergus Falls. The Warriors finished the season with a record of 15-9 and 6-8 conference record. The Warriors were led throughout the season by a plethora of freshmen athletes from all over the country. Those individuals that stood out throughout the season were the following:
DJ Brown, a freshman from Pensacola, FL led the team in scoring this season by averaging 15.0 points per game. Brown also garnered post season honors from the MCAC coaches by being voted in as a part of the 2021-22 All-MCAC team. Tyson Dyer, a freshman from Adelaide, AUS started in 23 games this season while averaging 10.0 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 2.6 assists per game. Menelik Garrick, a 6’6 freshman from Palm Bay, FL helped anchor the Warrior frontcourt throughout the season by starting in all 22 games that he played in this season while averaging 7.1 points per game to go along with 6.1 rebounds per game.
Another Warrior freshman that contributed significantly for Head Coach Thooft this season was Deron Lacy from Freeport, IL. Lacy contributed to the Warrior cause by averaging 9.9 points per game this season while also playing tremendous defense averaging 1.4 steals per game. Jaylyn Clardy, a freshman from Pensacola, FL saw action in 13 games this season and shined on both the glass and in the scoring column. Clardy averaged 14.0 points per game to go along with 8.5 rebounds per game.
In conclusion, the Warrior men had a tremendous season filled with many incredible moments, and Head Coach Nate Thooft is excited about what is ahead for the Warrior Men’s Basketball Program. “This core group has a chance to be a special group. When you overcome adversity and take some tough losses, it really teaches you lessons that are valuable when you are trying to make a championship run. We are going to have a solid core of sophomores back and we are very excited about the freshmen that will be coming in. Our coaches are working really hard to find the right fit for our systems and team. We really are about bringing in the right guys who are going to buy in and be great teammates. We are going to grow into a consistent team and challenge our guys to continue to lead. We are very excited for next season, the improvements, and the growth of our players and staff. We could start tomorrow!”
Women’s Basketball Recap
The 2021-22 Ridgewater Warriors Women’s Basketball season saw plenty of new fresh faces and a familiar face back at the helm of the program. Carrie Ogdahl returned this season to the bench after being away from coaching the previous five years.
After a slow to the season, The Warrior Women got there first wins of the season by defeating two familiar opponents from the MCAC North Division in Mesabi Range and Itasca CC. The Warriors ended up closing out there non-conference portion of the season with a record of 2-4. “The season began slow, as we expected with the late start in forming a team. We knew we could compete with the Northern Division schools and it was a good lead into the conference season.”
Going into the second part of the season and beginning of the conference season, the Warrior Women had to continually battle against some of the toughest opponents at the NJCAA D-3 level. One of the main highlights from the first part of the conference season saw the Ridgewater Warrior Women go on the road and defeat the M-State Fergus Falls Women by the score of 81-75 which was highlighted by Ashley Prahl’s (Willmar, MN) career and season-high of 36 points. The rest of the conference season did not go the way Coach Ogdahl and her staff wanted but they were encouraged by the effort that there team put together night in and night out. “I was impressed every game with the way these players showed up, improve daily and gave it there all. Their individual goals became the team goals and it was fun to see them work for that and achieve them.” Ultimately the Warrior Women finished with a record of 3-17 overall and a 1-13 MCAC Conference record.
Throughout the season, Warrior Basketball fans were able to get a good look at some extremely talented athletes that Coach Ogdahl had on her team. Ashley Prahl, a freshman from Willmar, MN averaged 16.8 points per game this season to go along with 7.8 rebounds. Prahl also received postseason honors by being voted into the 2021-22 All-MCAC Team. Another player that frequently lit up the box score for the Warriors was Abby Berskow, another freshman from Willmar, MN. Berskow averaged 10.8 points per game, to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Josie Knutson, a freshman from Brooten, MN was the only player for the Warriors this season to record a Triple-Double in a game. Knutson averaged 10.7 points per game and despite her small stature, was able to record 6.9 rebounds per game. Lastly, Harley Kunstleben from Paynesville, MN hit 48 total 3-point shots to lead her team this season. Kunstleben, a freshman, finished the season by averaging 9.4 points per game and 5.6 rebounds. “This season was one of the more rewarding years I have had in 21 years of coaching. With 5-7 players consistently showing up for practices and games, these athletes showed true grit all year. They learned to support their teammates in ways I have never experienced, and I am beyond proud to have coached every single one of these girls this season. They will definitely be a team I will always fondly remember!’
Although the 2021-22 season did not end the way that Coach Ogdahl and her staff wanted, they are optimistic and excited about what the future has in store for the Ridgewater College Women’s Basketball Program. “My assistant and I, Brooke Meyer, are busy recruiting for next year and beyond. The numbers are looking up and getting the Ridgewater Warrior name back out to the area high schools has been a huge goal! We will continue to strive at recruiting top area athletes and creating a winning program again here at Ridgewater!”
To learn more about Warrior athletics, visit www.ridgewaterathletics.com.