Last hurrah for seniorsThe senior class on the Jamestown High School girls basketball team is sprinkled everywhere. Standout guard Kyra Dewald is often the first name in the box score. She averages more than 20 points per game. Starter Miah Dabill, a defensive specialist, joins Rebekah Horgan in the back court, while Billie Buchanan and Siri Jystad both play inside for the most part.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The senior class on the Jamestown High School girls basketball team is sprinkled everywhere.
Standout guard Kyra Dewald is often the first name in the box score. She averages more than 20 points per game. Starter Miah Dabill, a defensive specialist, joins Rebekah Horgan in the back court, while Billie Buchanan and Siri Jystad both play inside for the most part.
“Potentially themselves, they could be a team,” JHS coach Andy Skunberg said. “The last game, we started all five and it worked out well. … This is my fourth year here, so I’ve had these girls since they were freshmen. I’m glad to see them grow up and mature.”
The culmination of their respective careers starts with today’s Class A state tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center. Jamestown (17-5), seeded third, meets East Region runner-up West Fargo (19-2) at 7 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall.
The Blue Jays enter having beaten Minot in a state-qualifier on Saturday at the West Region tournament. However, they preceded that with a semifinal loss to Bismarck High after beating the Demons twice in the regular season.
Dabill said the loss was a letdown, but since the Blue Jays had to come back and win the next day to extend their season, they didn’t dwell on it.
“We knew we had to forget it right away,” she said. “We had to put it all on the floor knowing it could be our last game. Hopefully coming into (state), we can redeem ourselves a little bit.”
Horgan took it a different way.
“I don’t think it was deflating; it was more momentum-building,” she said. “I was ready to go right away.”
A slow start reared its ugly head against Bismarck, something the Blue Jays have been able to avoid the second half of the season.
“We knew that we always had a lag period at the beginning of games,” said Jystad of their early-season struggles. “We wanted to make sure we turned it on right away and make a statement to start the game.”
In its first 10 games of the season, the Blue Jays posted a 6-4 record, but trailed at halftime in five of those games.
The home stretch saw JHS turn it around, as it won all nine of its games, holding a halftime lead in eight of them. Bismarck held a slim one-point lead at halftime in the first game of the winning streak, which the Blue Jays ended up winning by four at home.
“We definitely made a lot of adjustments in our start to the game,” Dabill said. “That made a huge difference.”
Jamestown is 14-1 this season when it’s ahead or tied at halftime.
“That kind of haunted us at the beginning of the year, not getting out of the gates,” Skunberg said. “The starts have been really good (since), except now at WDA we had a couple slow starts. … In the state tournament, we can’t start out slow. We’ve got probably one of the hardest roads to go. We’ve got to get out of the gates right away. It’s gonna be a dogfight.”
West Fargo, ranked third in the final Class A poll, has plenty of weapons to use against Jamestown, the state’s fourth-ranked team. Skunberg said keeping an eye on shooters Cass Thorson and Christine Baltezore will be key as the two have combined for 75 3-pointers. Shelby Gustafson, a 6-foot center, gives the Packers some size in the middle. Then there’s Lexi Lennon, the team’s leading scorer at around 13 per game.
“We’ve got to get some stops,” Skunberg said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep track of those two (3-point shooters) at all times. They’re a well-rounded team. We’ve got to step up defensively and contest outside shots and only allow them one shot at a time.”
Regardless of how the weekend comes to a close, the seniors will likely savor the experience.
“I think all five of us can really contribute in different ways,” Horgan said. “It’s fun playing with these girls.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com