Imperials punch ticket for stateAfter coming oh so close in recent years, the Napoleon Imperials and their six seniors finally cleared the hurdle that had been giving them fits here on Thursday.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
HAZELTON, N.D. — After coming oh so close in recent years, the Napoleon Imperials and their six seniors finally cleared the hurdle that had been giving them fits here on Thursday.
Napoleon’s dynamic duo of seniors Sheridon Dewald and Kendra Weigel scored a game-high 16 points each, as the Imperials are going to state after defeating the Ellendale Cardinals 59-41 in the championship game of the Region 3 Girls Basketball Tournament.
“At the beginning of the season we made a goal. We were like, ‘This is our last year together … girls, let’s make it to state,’” Napoleon senior Kendra Weigel said, who upped her career total in points to 1,457 on Thursday night. “We’re finally going. We put our heads to it and now we are here.”
Napoleon got off to about the best start a team could hope for in a region championship game. The Imperials stifled the Cardinals with a full-court press from the start, which helped to create 11 Ellendale turnovers and eight Napoleon steals in the first half.
When the Cardinals did get through the court-long pressure, the basket was hard to find. The Cards converted just 5-of-25 shots from the field — including 0-of-9 from 3-point range — in the opening 16 minutes, as the Imperials held a commanding 37-15 lead at the half.
“They were as focused as I’ve ever seen them,” Ellendale coach Matt Herman said of the Imperials. “They didn’t leave any doubt. They came out, they knew what they were wanting and they went and did it.
“They didn’t give us a chance to think we could play with them.”
Ellendale’s turnovers stung. Napoleon scored 14 points off of them in the first half, and ultimately outscored the Cardinals 23-4 in the game off turnovers.
“We were in this game last year … and we were so nervous,” Napoleon coach Darcy Lehr said, after winning the Region 3 Coach of the Year Award. “I told the girls this year when we made this game, our goal is to be excited to play, not nervous to play.
“We came out with some excitement and we did not play nervous at all.”
The Imperials began the game on a 10-2 run and led 17-6 after the first. Weigel hit a trey and scored seven in the first, as the Imperials were red-hot converting 14-of-28 shots from the field for 50 percent in the first half.
Weigel finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds, and also accounted for eight of Napoleon’s 15 steals. Dewald, who was honored as Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year, posted 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
The two-time second team all-state Dewald has now amassed 2,038 career points with three games to play in her stellar career.
“We tried to wear them down. We knew they didn’t have a very deep bench,” Lehr said. “We just tried to keep the pressure on as much as we can, and if they do break it hopefully they have tired legs and won’t be able to hit those shots.”
In all, the Imperials outrebounded the Cardinals 43-30 and forced the Cards into 21 turnovers.
Trailing 59-38 with less than 2 minutes left to play, Herman cleared the Ellendale bench. But there weren’t any tears, as the District 5 drought of winning the Region 3 tournament will now extend to 20 years.
That was probably because everybody on the Ellendale roster returns next year, including guards Dacey Fuller and Rachel Herman who led the Cards (16-7) on Thursday with 10 and eight points, respectively.
“My feelings for these girls aren’t any different now than if we would have been celebrating,” Matt Herman said. “We’ve got kids coming back. To get to where we got this year, going through what we went through with injuries and other issues, we couldn’t have asked for a better finish.”
Napoleon will be playing in its first state Class B girls tournament since 1983 next week at the Fargodome. They’ll be facing Beach in the first game on Thursday.
Napoleon beat Beach 60-55 in its first game of the season, way back on Dec. 14 at the Linton Shootout.
“This group of seniors, I can’t say enough about them. They’ve wanted it ever since grade school,” Lehr said. “They really came this winter with a purpose.”
Third place Linton-HMB 44, Kidder Co. 35
Linton-HMB junior McKenna Flyberg sank 3-of-5 from beyond 20 feet and posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs, helping the Lions capture third place with a 44-35 victory over the Kidder County Pirates.
The Lions set the tone from period No. 1, jumping out to a 19-8 advantage after the first 8 minutes. The Lions committed 21 turnovers in the game, but the team was able to outrebound the Pirates 40-27.
Alex Umber chipped in with 10 points for Linton-HMB, who finished the season with a victory at 16-8 overall. Sadie Rorich led the Pirates in scoring with 12 points, while Morgan Rorich was close behind with 10 points.
The Clippers finished the year at 15-10.
Region 3 Girls Basketball Tournament
Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock 44, Kidder County 35
Kidder Co. 8 18 25 35
Linton-HMB 19 24 37 44
Kidder Co. — Sadie Rorich 12, Morgan Rorich 10, Rebecca Schmidt 6, Jordan Meyer 4, Mary Nicholson 2, Cassidy Ziesch 1. Totals: 15-50 FG, 3-9 FT, 27 rebounds (S. Rorich 5), 16 fouls (S. Rorich), 2 assists, 13 turnovers, 3 blocks (Schmidt 2), 12 steals (Schmidt 6). 3-poiners: (2-16) M. Rorich 2.
Linton-HMB — McKenna Flyberg 16, Alexandria Umber 10, Tiffaney Gerving 5, Amber Umber 5, Kaidra Larson 4, Nicole Nieuwsma 2, Taryn Schlosser 2. Totals: 16-43 Totals, 8-13 FT, 40 (Flyberg 10), 8 fouls, 4 assists, 21 turnovers, 12 steals (Gerving 4). 3-pointers: (4-11) Flyberg 3, Gerving 1.
Records: Linton-HMB 16-8; Kidder County 15-10.
Napoleon 59, Ellendale 41
Ellendale 6 15 33 41
Napoleon 17 37 54 59
Ellendale — Dacey Fuller 10, Rachel Herman 8, Madilyn Bommersbach 7, Isabel Wedel 6, Kirsten Rall 5, KaLee Hack 3, Monica Hofer 2. Totals: 15-53 FG, 11-13 FT, 30 rebounds (Hack 7), 14 fouls, 2 assists, 21 turnovers, 4 blocks (Rall 3), 6 steals (3 with 2). 3-pointers: Herman 2, Bommersbach 1, Rall 1.
Napoleon — Kendra Weigel 16, Sheridon Dewald 16, Shania Gross 6, Brenna Schmidt 6, Mikayla Young 6, Brianna Wolf 3, Mariah Jangula 4, Kecia Ellison 2. Totals: 21-56 FG, 15-19 FT, 43 rebounds (Dewald 12, Weigel 7), 12 fouls, 9 assists (3 with 2), 13 turnovers, 8 blocks (Dewald 5), 15 steals (Weigel 8). 3-pointers: (2-5) Weigel 1, Wolf 1,
Records: Napoleon 22-1; Ellendale 16-7.
Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year: Sheridon Dewald, Napoleon.
Region 3 Coach of the Year: Darcy Lehr, Napoleon.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org