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Unknown no more

Tom O’Neill

Two years ago a small 5-foot 7 guard was graduating from Michigan Lutheran High School. She got a few collegiate looks, but it was Lake Michigan College that reaped the rewards of Hailey Maas. “It’s hard coming from a small private school to get my name out there,” she explained.

            In her first year with the Lady Red Hawks, Maas averaged just over 19 points a game and became the team’s go-to player. Winning the MCCAA Western Conference tournament earned Lake Michigan a spot in the NJCAA Tournament. When the tournament ended, Maas was second-team All-American.

            Asked about her goals for this year’s team, Maas replied “Make it to nationals. It’s a great experience. I wanted to become a better leader, point guard and limit my turnovers.”

            Maas is averaging 19.5 points a game thru 27 games this year and her team is ranked 20th in the NJCAA. She’s shooting 83.2 percent at the line and is averaging 33 minutes a game despite being pulled in the fourth quarter when the Red Hawks hold big leads. There have been games when she has gone the 40-minute distance. “You have to be in good shape. There’s no way if I wasn’t,” explained Maas.

            The LMC sophomore, who commutes daily from home for classes, practice and games, is pursuing a nursing degree. With several colleges waiting in the wings for Maas join them, her immediate plans are to get back to the national stage by winning districts. After that, pursue a bachelor degree in nursing while continuing to play at a four-year college.

            “I hope to work in a hospital and maybe coach basketball in the future,” Maas said, adding “whatever is the right fit.” She hopes as she becomes older to still be around family, maybe even coming back to St. Joseph.

            LMC needs to win the District G Championship for a return to the NJCAA’s. They’ve secured the number two seed, same as last year. Kalamazoo Valley (ranked sixth nationally) stands in the way again. The Red Hawks split with the Cougars in the regular season. LMC topped Kalamazoo last year in the district finals. The tournament kicks off Tuesday, March 7 at LMC, then moves to St. Clair Community College for the semi-finals and championship.

            Asked how she deals with girls much taller while continuing to score points Maas said “I like to drive in there and into their bodies. I’ll take whatever the defense gives me. KVCC and Ancilla are two of the bigger teams. They know us well and throw different defenses against us.”

            Maas says some of the younger players worry too much about making a mistake on the court. “Learn from the mistakes to become a better player. Each play is important.” Maas says she talks to her teammates, encouraging them on the court and telling them to shake off a mistake. “Focus on the current play.”

            Does she have any final thoughts for her teammates? “Enjoy LMC. The whole team is like a family. Don’t take it for granted.”

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