Marquee matchup: Unbeatens meet in Valley CityAndy Skunberg and Jim McDaniel have only been head coaches of their programs for a combined seven years. But the Jamestown and Valley City High School girls basketball coaches understand that it’s not often their teams meet unbeaten.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Andy Skunberg and Jim McDaniel have only been head coaches of their programs for a combined seven years.
But the Jamestown and Valley City High School girls basketball coaches understand that it’s not often their teams meet unbeaten.
“I don’t know much of the history of the two, but I don’t remember in my four years that they’ve been undefeated,” said Skunberg, who’s coached the Blue Jays to a 3-0 record this season. “Going into this game, I’d assume probably not.”
Jamestown travels to Valley City today for a nonconference clash at 5:45 p.m. The boys are scheduled to follow shortly after.
McDaniel has the Hi-Liners out to a 4-0 start and said he expects to see plenty of fans at the doubleheader.
“It should be a pretty packed house, I’m thinking,” he said.
Jamestown started the season with an 88-76 win over Fargo Davies, but the excitement was turned up a notch when the Blue Jays topped Mandan 67-63 in overtime at home. The Jays, ranked fourth in the latest Class A state media poll, just edged host Minot 61-52 for its second West Region win.
“We’re just playing good team basketball,” Skunberg said. “We’re not being selfish. We’re spreading the ball around and finding ways to win games.”
Skunberg said he is somewhat concerned about the team’s turnover troubles, but said he thinks they’ll have that under control soon.
“Seventy turnovers in three games; that’s definitely high,” Skunberg said. “In the second half of that Minot game, I think we only had six. Hopefully, the turnover thing will start settling down.”
Through three games, guard Kyra Dewald is averaging 20 points per game. Forward Paige Peterson has a per-game average of 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Billie Buchanan is scoring 14 points per game to go with six rebounds. The Blue Jays have been pretty good at the free-throw line too, making 50-of-64 for 78 percent.
McDaniel said he expects to see plenty of pressure from Jamestown’s defense.
“They play a pretty aggressive defense,” McDaniel said. “They’re gonna be a lot bigger than us. Defensively, they can keep our scoring down, which could be a little bit of a worry for me. They’ll probably press us some to get turnovers up.”
Offensive balance best describes Valley City on one end of the court.
In wins over Wahpeton, Maple Valley and Fargo Davies, the Hi-Liners had four players in double figures. Six different girls have scored at least 10 points in a game, led by sophomore guard Clarissa Olson’s 15-points-per-game average. Junior Dierra Diegel is averaging 14.3 points, while junior Jessica Denholm has averaged 11.
But it’s not as if the Hi-Liners aren’t able to get huge scoring efforts from individuals, either. Denholm had 23 points in a season-opening win against Wahpeton, while Olson poured in 25 at Davies.
“We haven’t really counted on one person to really lead us,” McDaniel said. “We’ve gotten a pretty balanced scoring attack. It’s a different mix every game.”
The Hi-Liners have a trio of 5-10 girls, but that’s it, height-wise. Matching up with Peterson, a 6-foot-1 post, could be a problem.
Skunberg said he knows Valley City will find a way to compete.
“They’re a scrappy team; they run the floor well,” Skunberg said. “Versus Davies, they played zone. Against Wahpeton, they played man. It’s a little of both on defense.”
Stopping Chase Carpenter will be priority No. 1 for the Jamestown boys.
The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds as a junior last year and keys the offense for the Hi-Liners. He was an all-EDC selection.
Valley City lost to Maple Valley in the Barnes County Tournament championship game recently, where it picked up its only two wins of the season. The Hi-Liners (2-3) have conference losses to Wahpeton and West Fargo.
Jamestown has struggled mightily in its first three games losing 92-58 at Fargo Davies, 72-55 to Mandan and 83-39 at Minot.
Senior David Hanson is averaging a team-high nine points per game, followed by Sean Lindberg (7 ppg), Brandon Wegner (6) and McKade Kleinknecht (6).
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com