VIRGINIA — Earlier this season, Virginia senior Lexiss Trygg recorded her 1,000th career point. Friday night, she added another impressive stat to her decorated resume: 1,000 career rebounds.
With just under two minutes to play in the contest and the Blue Devils leading Mesabi East 59-43, Trygg hauled in an offensive rebound to put her name in the record books. Devils head coach Spencer Aune called a timeout, allowing Trygg to get her recognition and an ovation from the crowd.
Virginia had a solid command over the game at that point. Trygg scored the final two points of the contest for the Devils as they came away with the 61-43 win over the Giants.
After the game, coach Aune talked about Trygg’s accomplishments and what she means to the Virginia program.
“To me, 1,000 rebounds is more impressive than 1,000 points,” Aune said. “1,000 points is impressive obviously but to get 1,000 rebounds, you have to go after it and she has done that since the minute stepped on to the varsity floor and even before that.
“What she brings to the team is so much. She’s invaluable. Other teams playing against us know it too. They’re bringing their best game plan to stop her and she just delivers for us. I couldn’t be more proud to see her get that 1,000 rebound at home after she got 1,000 points on the road. It was extra special to see that tonight.”
Trygg finished the contest with 18 points to lead the Devils in points, along with Rian Aune who also had 18.
The two teams meeting for the second time this year kept things close throughout the first half before the Devils began to pull away in the final 18 minutes.
Virginia ran out to a quick 8-2 lead thanks to five early points from Anna Fink on a three followed by a steal and then a layup just before Trygg earned her first points of the game on a three-pointer. The Giants answered back quickly with Alexa Fossell knocking down a three and then adding two more on the lay in.
Finnk knocked down a shot from the elbow to make it 10-7, but Hannah Hannuksela got her night started for the Giants with a three pointer to knot things up.
Coming into the contest, Virginia’s game plan defensively revolved around stopping the Giants two biggest threats: Hannuksela and Kora Forsline. Working their zone defense, the Devils were ready to crash in on Forsline when she made a cut to the high post. While Forsline often got to the free throw line, the field goals themselves weren’t falling due to Virginia’s pressure.
“We had to stop Kora right at that free throw line,” Aune said. “She likes to get the ball there and we had to make sure we always had somebody cutting off that pass or at least getting in her area on that. Then we had to make sure we always had someone on Hannuksela and I feel like we did that well all night.”
Forsline finished with 14 points and was 9-10 from the free throw line. Giants head coach Chris Whiting said the 6-foot junior will need to find her confidence sooner rather than later.
“She was starting a little slow. She got to the free throw line but Virginia played hard on her. The confidence picked up a bit in the second half but she’s got to start getting it going right from the get-go as a junior.”
Virginia went into the halftime break leading Mesabi East 24-20. Trygg led the Devils with eight while Forsline had six for the Giants.
The Devils slowly began to expand their lead in the second half. Leading 30-25 after a long two pointer from freshman Emma Lamppa, Trygg recorded her third foul of the night and took some time on the bench. From there, it was Rian Aune who took over for Virginia.
Recording eight of Virginia’s next 10 points, Aune found success driving to the hoop and then switching things up later with the long-range bomb. Her three-pointer put the Devils up 40-32.
Mesabi East answered with a quick five, two from Hannuksela and a three from Forsline, but Virginia scored on three straight possessions after that with Lamppa taking one to the hoop, Trygg scoring on the spin move down low and Lamppa following things up with a three to put the Devils up by 10 again, 47-37.
Aune and Trygg — now back in the game — kept the Devils offense moving. Late shots from Hannuksela and Forsline began to fall, but the Virginia duo proved to be too much in the end, as the Devils closed things out, 61-43.
On his team’s loss, Whiting said that the Devils simply had too many weapons after the emergence of Lamppa.
“You just can’t focus on one. Trygg and Aune are always going to score. You have to guard Fink as well and now Lamppa had a really nice game. If you have four players like that, you can’t afford to double team someone and leave someone else open.”
Aune had to give credit to Lamppa for stepping up on defense in the absence of junior Erin Haerer, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Lamppa spent most of the second half guarding Hannuksela as she brought the ball down the court, preventing the Giants best shooter from getting off any easy shots.
“Emma gave us a huge spark defensively in the second half. She did a great job out there and when you spark the defense, it does wonders for our offense. She was making the right reads, attacking, hitting the three. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Coach Aune also complimented Rian Aune’s second half run.
“That was huge for us. She took charge tonight in the second half and was assertive offensively and attacked hard to the rim. When she drives like that, she can score or kick it ouf for a three. When we get to the point where everybody is clicking like we were tonight, we’re fun to watch.”
Whiting says that his team hoped to make some improvements in their second contest with the Devils, but they fell into similar pitfalls from the first game.
“We played well that first half and kept it close,” Whiting said. “Then we let it go in the second. Virginia is very patient with the ball and they shoot at a high percentage. We started rushing shots and they weren’t falling. You don’t always win taking the most shots. It’s about making the best shots. We stayed competitive though until the end when Virginia pulled away.”
Mesabi East (5-6) will travel to Eveleth-Gilbert on Monday.
The Devils (9-2) will play host to Duluth Marshall on Tuesday, one of the top teams in Section 7AA and the state. Aune says his team seems to be putting the pieces together at the right time this year.
“I think we’re getting to the point now where we have our legs under us. This year feels like a different season. I’m proud of our effort tonight and this is big going into next week against Marshall. That should be another fun one.”
ME 20 23 — 43
VHS 24 37 — 61
Mesabi East: Aaliyah Sahr 4, Alexa Fossell 7, Hannah Hannuksela 14, Kora Forsline 14, Stevie Hakala 3, Maija Hill 1; Three pointers: Fossell 1, Hannuksela 2, Forsline 1, Hakala 1; Free throws: 15-19; Total fouls: 10; Fouled out: none.
Virginia: Anna Fink 7, Rian Aune 18, Emma Lamppa 11, Lexiss Trygg 18, Sophie Christofferson 3, Aleksia Tollefson 4; Three pointers: Fink 1, Aune 2, Lamppa 1, Trygg 1; Free throws: 6-9; Total fouls: 13; Fouled out: none.