BCN hoping to make run in District 5The preseason buzz surrounding the Barnes County North Lady Bison was spot on. Barnes County North will enter today’s District 5 girls’ basketball tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center as the No. 2 seed, after playing to a district mark of 5-2, which is where many had the Bison pegged at the start of the season.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The preseason buzz surrounding the Barnes County North Lady Bison was spot on.
Barnes County North will enter today’s District 5 girls’ basketball tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center as the No. 2 seed, after playing to a district mark of 5-2, which is where many had the Bison pegged at the start of the season.
The reasoning behind that was because the Bison lost just one senior on a very youthful squad to graduation last year after finishing with an overall record of 8-15 and fourth in the District 5 tourney.
Barnes County North got through the regular season at 8-11, and after the experience they gained during last year’s district tourney coach Randy Hooey is expecting that experience to pay off in today’s quarterfinal game against seventh-seeded Central Prairie.
“It’s nice being able to have experienced girls entering the district tournament. Last year we were young, and we kind of over-achieved,” Hooey said. “This year people are expecting us to do well so it’s going to be a different experience.”
The tournament gets underway at 4:30 p.m., with fourth-seeded Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal facing No. 5 seeded Edgeley-Kulm. Barnes County North and Central Prairie follow at 6 p.m. with third-seeded LaMoure squaring off against No. 6 seed Litchville-Marion-Montpelier in the nightcap.
The Ellendale Cardinals — and 1,000-plus career point scorer Meg Martin — earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed. The defending District 5 champion Cardinals went a perfect 6-0 in district play this year, en route to the best record of any team in the tournament at 13-6.
Hooey expects Ellendale will be right in the hunt for the title again this year, and also mentioned No. 3-seeded LaMoure — who has former head men’s basketball coach at Division II Southwest Minnesota State University Greg Stemen calling the shots from the sideline — to be formidable as well.
LaMoure and BCN played to identical 5-2 District 5 records this season, but a 50-45 Lady Bison win over the Loboes in BCN’s second game of the season earned the Bison the No. 2 seed.
“I think LaMoure is playing a lot better. Coach Stemen has got his girls playing well, and they play tough, physical defense. They keep the scoring low,” Hooey said. “And, you’ve also got to look at Ellendale. They’re pretty darn good.
“They are just steady and don’t make many mistakes. You have to play your ‘A’ game to beat them, and you have to play it for 32 minutes.”
The senior-loaded Cardinals are once again led by senior forward Meg Martin who is averaging close to a double-double with 12.8 ppg and 9.7 rpg.
Kiley Fuller is also back leading the team in assists (6.2 ppg) and steals (52).
“We were expected to be here, but I don’t know if we’ve played our best basketball yet,” Ellendale coach Matt Herman said. “But we’ll take that as a good thing. This is the time you want to peak.”
Ellendale is averaging just under 50 points (48.4) per game, but solid defense has led them to their 13 victories.
Herman said he wouldn’t be surprised who came out on top during today’s games, while his team has the night off.
“I hate to count anybody out,” Herman said. “L-M-M and Central Prairie struggled, but after that I think it’s wide open.”
The Bison have utilized a nice offensive balance between feeding the ball into their plethora of post players, or by kicking the ball out to 5-foot-8 junior guard Emily Albrecht who is no stranger to sinking the long ball. Albrecht has rung up 30 three-pointers so far on the season and is averaging close to nine points per game.
Nearly all of BCN’s top scoring threats average close to that same number as normally the Bison have had a different leading scorer each night. Others who have led the team in scoring this season include senior guard Allison Windish, senior forward Sara Heinze (5-10), junior guard SaraLi Petersen, and junior post players Jenna Gullickson, Sydney Reimers and Lauren McMillan.
“Our scoring has improved by about nine points per game vs. last year. We’ve been able to push the ball a little more this year and we’ve been able to feed the post and create free-throw opportunities as well,” Hooey said. “Our strength is definitely feeding the post and Emily Albrecht shooting on the outside.”
The Bison have averaged just over 43 points per game this season at 43.2.
Today the Bison will try to get the District 5 tournament off on the right foot with a win over Central Prairie, but they’ll have to contain Central Prairie’s main scoring threats of Alecia Krapp and Jordan Spitzer.
The Bison defeated Central Prairie 56-44 during the regular season, but the game was tied 26-26 at the half. The Firebirds have won a pair of games this year.
“We didn’t come out exactly ready to play basketball like we needed to in that one,” Hooey said. “This time we’ve made some adjustments to do some of things that we were successful doing in the second half.
“We can’t overlook them at all,” Hooey added. “They’ve made a lot of improvements since last year and they’re a team you have to be ready to play against.”
After taking fourth in the district tourney last season, BCN received a tough draw to open the Region 3 girls’ tournament. The Bison were defeated 66-35 by the eventual Region 3 champion Kidder County Pirates.
Hooey is hoping his team can achieve a higher seed for that tournament starting today.
“It would be nice to get off to a fast start and come away with a good win (today),” Hooey said. “You hate to look too far ahead in the tournament, but this is a tournament I think we can make a run into Monday night.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org