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Tourney notebook: Park Center star's Florida decision part of search for new experience

03/15/2016, 10:49pm CDT

Park Center’ Mikayla Hayes, a 6-1 junior center, said her decision to commit to Florida was about her desire to carve her own path

Much has been made of the inability of University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings to attract the best recruits in Minnesota. But Park Center’ Mikayla Hayes, a 6-1 junior center, said her decision to commit to Florida was about her desire to carve her own path in basketball and not a reflection on the Gophers’ program.

“I did get some interest from [Minnesota], but since my mom went to the U of M, I kind of wanted to do something different,” Hayes said.

Hayes’ mother, Dana Joubert-Hayes, played for Minnesota from 1989 through 1992.

“I know a lot of the players from here are staying around the Big Ten, and I wanted to play against new people and have a whole different experience,” Hayes said. “That’s why Florida seemed like the perfect place for me.”


A Bear in the air

White Bear Lake senior center Kate Brabenec made a play invaluable to the Bears’ success in overtime against favored St. Michael-Albertville.

Teammate Taite Anderson missed a layup but Brabenec leaped, grabbed the ball and sent it off the glass and in before landing. The athletic play gave her Bears a 64-62 lead that wouldn’t last — the Knights got the next basket — but nonetheless showed determination.

“We do it in practice all the time, but it’s rare that it works out in a game,” said Brabenec, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. “When you’re so locked in, you don’t even think about it. It just happens.”



Injury at worst time

Tori Wortz entered Tuesday averaging 17 points per game and hoping to lead top-seeded Hutchinson closer to a Class 3A state title.

That dream couldn’t be realized after Wortz left what became a 61-59 loss to unseeded Thief River Falls in the first half and didn’t return.

Tigers coach Tim Ellefson said Wortz fell and likely took an elbow to the face on the way down. Ellefson said she probably did not have a concussion, but instead suffered an injury to her eye.

“I feel bad for her because there’s no one who’s worked harder for this,” Ellefson said. “She’s led us in everything.”


CODy Stavenhagen

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Tag(s): Hub exclusive  Star Tribune  Lake  St. Michael-Albertville  Thief River Falls  Park Center  White Bear Lake  Hutchinson