Ellendale eyes District 5 championshipThe Ellendale Cardinals will be attempting to dethrone three-time defending champion Litchville-Marion-Montpelier when the girls’ District 5 basketball tournament tips off this afternoon at the Jamestown Civic Center.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The Ellendale Cardinals will be attempting to dethrone three-time defending champion Litchville-Marion-Montpelier when the girls’ District 5 basketball tournament tips off this afternoon at the Jamestown Civic Center.
Ellendale put together an impressive season on the court this winter — finishing District 5 play with an unblemished 7-0 record — and enters the tourney as the No. 1 seed.
After defeating each team in the tournament once already the Cardinals would have to be the favorite. But Ellendale coach Matt Herman knows that one might as well toss away regular season results once the postseason gets underway.
“We know it’s going to be a battle. This tournament is up for grabs,” Herman said. “Five of our district wins were by six points or less. There’s a lot of balance in the district and there are six teams with legitimate chances of moving on.
“We come in wearing the target with the No. 1 seed.”
The Cardinals have created problems for the opposition all season with their balanced offensive attack, led by junior forward Meg Martin. The all-district athlete has averaged 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per night to this point, but she’s been accompanied by a solid cast around her.
Senior Kelsey Mertz (4.0 ppg) and juniors Kinsey Holm (8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Kiley Fuller (8.0 ppg, 5.5 apg) and McKenzie Betting (5.5 ppg) have all had shining moments this season for the Cards.
“It seems like we’ve had somebody else respond every night with a big game or a big bucket. I know we’ve had at least four different leading scorers,” Herman said. “We’ve got quite a bit of balance and that makes it tough for anyone to load up (defensively) on just one individual.”
Ellendale rolled to an overall regular season record of 15-4, even with the loss of junior all-district starter Ashley Herman. Herman, who put up 8.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg a season ago, was lost to a torn ACL in the Cardinals’ sixth game of the season.
“If we would have been 15-4 with her, I’d have been happy. But I’m elated we were able to without her,” coach Herman said. “It’s a testament to the rest of the team and how they all have stepped up.”
Ellendale played its entire district schedule without Ashley Herman, which included a key 51-45 home victory over the Litchville-Marion-Montpelier Rebels on Jan. 8.
In search of their fourth straight District 5 crown, the Rebels enter the tournament with a 6-1 district record (13-5 overall) and the No. 2 seed. L-M-M will face Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal (7-11, 2-5 District 5) at 6:30 p.m. this afternoon.
Ellendale will get the tournament started against Central Prairie (0-19), a team coach Herman said put up a solid fight during the regular season.
“Those girls played us just as hard in the 31st minute as they did in the first minute and they’re not going to lay down for anyone,” Herman said. “We’re not going to look past anybody.”
Rounding out today’s quarterfinal games, Edgeley-Kulm (4-15, 3-4 District 5) will take on Barnes County North (6-13, 3-4 District 5) at 4:45 p.m., and Valley City (7-11, 5-2 District 5) will play LaMoure and 8:15 p.m.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org