Lions familiar with state tournamentsJust like the boys, two years as the Linton-Hazleton-Moffit Braddock Lions has produced back-to-back trips to the state Class B basketball tournament for the ladies of Linton-HMB.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Just like the boys, two years as the Linton-Hazleton-Moffit Braddock Lions has produced back-to-back trips to the state Class B basketball tournament for the ladies of Linton-HMB.
The Lions upended Napoleon 60-49 in the Region 3 championship game in Napoleon March 8, which also marked two straight region titles for Lady Lions head coach Pat Gerving, who took over the duties for long-tenured Linton girls’ coach Brian Flyberg last season.
Gerving and the Lions posted a third-place finish last year at the Bismarck Civic Center, and no one should be too surprised if the Lions are able to improve on that result starting today in Bismarck.
“Our seniors have been to back-to-back state basketball tournaments and have also been to back-to-back-to-back state volleyball tournaments,” Gerving said. “They’ve got big-game experience, and this isn’t a whole new thing for them.
“Their comfort level should be pretty high, and we’re hoping that carries over to our younger girls and impacts the whole team.”
Senior leadership and being familiar with the pressure associated with playing at state should come in handy for the Lions today, as they’ll be taking on a very impressive, yet a very young, Minot Bishop Ryan squad.
Minot Bishop Ryan is the champion of Region 6, carrying a record of 24-1. The team is led in the post by a pair of 6-foot-1 freshmen in the likes of Hannah Stewart and Gabbie Bohl. Both are capable in the paint, but Stewart has had the better year of the two, posting numbers of 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.
Stewart leads the team in those four categories.
The Lions of Bishop Ryan also have another young gun in the form of 5-10 sophomore Anika Rovig. Rovig runs the show from the point, posting numbers of 12.0 points, 5.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 steals per contest, and she keeps teams honest by knocking down 44 percent of her shots. Rovig has 46 three-pointers on the year.
“They are very young, but they pose a big challenge for us in that they are very athletic and they’re a very up-tempo, aggressive team,” Gerving said. “We’re going to need to try to control the tempo.”
Linton-HMB carries a record of 18-6 and is 2-0 against teams that are at this weekend’s state Class B. The Lions defeated both Beach (60-52) and Shiloh Christian (74-65 OT) back in December.
The team is led offensively with three players averaging double figures in scoring. Those athletes are seniors Kayln Schneider (17.0 ppg) and Robin Weber (10.6 ppg), and 5-8 sophomore McKenna Flyberg (11.2 ppg).
Schneider (5-9) leads the team in scoring, steals (40) and blocks (13), and is also averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per outing. She was named to the state Class B all-tournament team last season.
Weber (5-8) leads the team in rebounds (6.8 rpg) and assists (65), while Flyberg has connected on 42 of 106 three-pointers this season for 40 percent.
Whitney Gerving, a 5-6 guard, is also a key cog for the Lions, averaging 5.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
“We’ve got to make sure are younger kids aren’t shell-shocked,” Pat Gerving said. “Whitney and Kayln are two-year starters. Robin ins a first-year starter, but those girls saw a lot of time last year and have to set the tone for those younger girls and play the way they did in the regional.”
This week will mark the 15th time that either Linton, Braddock, or Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock has appeared at the state Class B. Braddock won a state championship in 1988.
Linton came close in 2004, finishing second to Larimore, and this could be the year Linton-HMB makes another deep run. Without No. 1-ranked Carrington or Central Cass — who has finished second in the past two state tourneys — being represented, the tournament has an “up-for-grabs” feel to it.
“I think it is wide open. Any team that shows up there this weekend and puts together three solid games has a chance,” Gerving said. “I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite.”
The Lions of Linton-HMB and the Lions of Minot Bishop Ryan take the floor tonight at 6:30 p.m.
“We want to take it one game at a time and not overlook anybody,” Gerving said. “You want to get to that championship game, but you first want to take care of the game at hand before you start thinking about the next one.”
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Shiloh Christian (19-6) vs. New Town (24-0)
The first quarterfinal game of the day pits the Region 5 champion Shiloh Christian Skyhawks up against the Region 8 champion New Town Eagles at 1 p.m.
The Eagles can put points on the board and are the only undefeated team in this year’s state tournament. New Town, however, will get a chance to see how battled-tested they are starting today, having not met up with any team at this year’s state Class B this season.
The Eagles don’t play a single senior, and are paced by 5-7 sophomore Baeleigh Brady with 13.5 points and 3.6 assists per game. Brady has also sunk 40 three-pointers on the season at a 45-pecent clip.
The Skyhawks are 0-2 against teams at state, with losses to Linton-HMB (74-56 OT) and Minot Bishop Ryan (75-63). The player to watch for Shiloh Christian is 5-7 junior guard Paige Emmel, who has produced 16.7 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
The Skyhawks are 14-3 over their last 17 games. The team lost to Grant County (69-63) in the District 9 title game, but bounced back to defeat Grant County (46-35) for the Region 5 crown.
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Grafton (23-1) vs. Lakota-Adams-Edmore (21-4)
One can only wonder if Midkota had not upset No. 1-ranked Carrington in the Region 4 semifinals in Devils Lake last week, the young Lakota/Adams-Edmore Raiders might not have been this year’s Region 4 representative at state.
But that’s why they play the games. The Raiders upended Midkota 52-41 in the title game, which marks Lakota’s first appearance at state since 2008 and Adams-Edmore’s first trip since 2006. Both teams earned seventh-place finishes.
The Raiders have used a healthy dose of 5-11 freshman forward Fallyn Freije to win games all season. In her freshman year, Freije has produced big-time numbers with 21.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per outing, to go along with 2.6 assists and 2.0 blocks.
Freije can shoot and handle the ball. She averaged a double-double throughout the region tournament.
Grafton is battle-tested, having to defeat last year’s Region 2 champion Central Valley — and the Henningsgard sisters of Taylor and Kennedy — 66-43 in Grand Forks last week to earn a berth at state.
Brooke Gaustad, a 5-8 senior, is the glue that holds the Spoilers together. She has posted career numbers of 1,144 points, 656 rebounds, 433 assists and 287 steals.
But Grafton has plenty of offensive options, including 5-8 junior Alison Burns, who poured in 23 points against Central Valley in the Region 2 title tilt. Burns went 7 of 7 from three-point land, giving her 51 treys on the year.
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Kindred (22-2) vs. Beach (22-2)
After Kindred went 2-1 against No. 2-ranked Central Cass during the season, which included a 57-51 victory over the Squirrels in last week’s Region 1 title game in Lisbon, it would appear as if the Buccaneers of Beach would have their hands full tonight in the nightcap.
But nobody can count out the three-time defending Region 7 champion Buccaneers, who won a state title in 2010 and took fifth at state last season. All that success has come under head coach Bob Waldal, who has directed Beach to a mark of 74-3 over the past three seasons.
Beach is guided by the explosive duo of senior center Kelcee Dykins and sophomore guard Hailee Farstveet. Dykins was the Region 7 Senior Player of the Year with 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while Farstveet played on Beach’s state championship team as an eighth-grader and averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals per night this season.
Kindred will be looking for a nice night out of 5-10 senior Braidy Dahl, who posted 16 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior. The Vikings also have scoring threats in junior Kellie Schmit (5-11) and sophomore Brooke Graff (5-7).
Graff hit three treys and scored 17 points to lead the Vikings past Washburn 58-49 during the South Border Basketball Jamboree at the Jamestown Civic Center back on Dec. 17.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com