P-B-K in the District 5 mixThe two-time defending champion Ellendale Cardinals get a bye in the opening round of the District 5 Girls’ Basketball Tournament starting this evening at the Jamestown Civic Center.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The two-time defending champion Ellendale Cardinals get a bye in the opening round of the District 5 Girls’ Basketball Tournament starting this evening at the Jamestown Civic Center.
Graduation took its toll on the team, as they replaced its entire starting five this season. But what Ellendale coach Matt Herman has done with his new flock of Cardinals has been nothing short of spectacular, as he’s had his team’s offense rolling all season to a record of 14-5 and the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Ellendale is now afforded the opportunity to sit back and watch the district’s remaining six teams duke it out for a spot in Saturday’s semifinals, and one of those teams favored in the hunt are the Rebels of Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal.
Playing in the opposite half of the bracket to Ellendale, second-seeded P-B-K squares off against the No. 7-seeded Edgeley-Kulm Rebels tonight at 6 p.m.
The two teams have faced each other twice this season, and both games were decided by a similar margin. P-B-K defeated E-K 51-38 in the consolation bracket of the Stutsman County Tournament back in January, before notching the consolation championship with a 53-34 win over LaMoure in the fifth-place game.
P-B-K then went on to defeat the Edgeley-Kulm Rebels again by the final of 51-39 a week later on Jan. 24.
“The second time we played them they played a very aggressive man-to-man defense, and it took a little bit of adjusting to get things going,” said P-B-K coach Cory Mack. “I think the girls played into the fact of what happened the first time, but (E-K) was a much a better team.”
Edgeley-Kulm (1-18) enters the tournament with just one win on the season, which was a 58-29 victory over Litchville-Marion-Montpelier (3-16). L-M-M is seeded No. 4 and will face No. 5-seeded LaMoure (6-13) in the first game of the day at 4:30 p.m.
P-B-K has put together a solid year, finishing the regular season with a mark of 9-10. The Rebels put together a seven-game winning streak that started in the Stutsman County Tournament, but finished out the season with three straight losses to three solid teams: Midkota, Enderlin and New Rockford-Sheyenne.
The Rebels closed out the season with a 56-49 loss to the Rockets in Kensal on Feb. 17.
“Those were three extremely good basketball teams. We lost the New Rockford-Sheyenne game by seven, but we played really good defense the last three quarters of the game,” Mack said. “I was really happy with that effort, especially going into the district tournament.
“The girls have a lot of confidence right now, but we still have to come out and play good, solid defense.”
The Rebels finished last year third in the district to qualify for the Region 3 tournament, and last played in the district title game three years ago, falling to L-M-M 57-46.
“Getting to the regional tournament last year was big for the kids,” Mack said. “It was kind of a confidence booster for them this year. We started out a little slow, but this time of the year anything can happen.”
Senior guard Kelly Carlson will be playing in her final district tournament for the Rebels, finishing a career that seems to have gone on for a decade. Carlson went over 1,000 career points this season, and has really been the team’s sparkplug since her freshman year.
She’s averaging just over 12 points per night this season, second on the team only to 5-foot-9 junior post Amanda Beckley’s 13.5 points per game. Beckley has been a force in the paint for the Rebels all season long.
But P-B-K will need more than just their two go-to players to have success in Jamestown this weekend, and will look to get quality minutes from senior Shelby Backer (5-3), junior Shantel Albrecht (5-6) and sophomore Morgan Thomas (5-4).
“Shantel has really been playing well for us right now, averaging six or seven points per game,” Mack said. “We also need some scoring from Morgan Thomas. She’s had some good games but we need to get some solid play out of her, and Shelby Backer.
“She’s had a stretch there too with a three or four games with eight or 10 points. If we can get her back in that mode it will definitely help things.”
In the final game of the day, No. 3-seeded Barnes County North (8-11) will face No. 6-seeded Central Prairie (3-15) at 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t see any big blowouts. Ellendale is the cream of the crop as far as the district goes, but after that it’s relatively close between everybody else,” Mack said. “We’re playing pretty decent basketball and feeling good about where things are right now.
“We just want to put three good games together of playing solid defense, and offensively playing team basketball.”