Looking aheadWinning two games at state is never easy. Winning two games and losing another one by a close margin is even tougher. With the Class A state tournament wrapping up this past weekend, several things happened that certainly make you think big if you’re a Blue Jay fan.
Winning two games at state is never easy.
Winning two games and losing another one by a close margin is even tougher.
With the Class A state tournament wrapping up this past weekend, several things happened that certainly make you think big if you’re a Blue Jay fan.
Jamestown took fifth place, dispatching of Wahpeton and Mandan the final two days after West Fargo narrowly defeated the Blue Jays in the opening round on Thursday in Bismarck. West Fargo was very pleased to have won that game, and coach Barb Metcalf said so herself, speaking very highly to the press about Jamestown’s team.
West Fargo beat Bismarck High to make the state championship game, where the Packers struggled in a 30-point loss to Bismarck Century.
When the smoke cleared, Century stood alone at the top with only two losses to North Dakota schools this season. The Patriots fell to Bismarck High in the West Region championship game, but their other loss came at Jamestown 47-46 in which the Blue Jays used stifling defense to hold down standout Hannah Larson and their shooters. It’s something for the Blue Jays to hang their hat on for sure.
Other notes from this season:
r The final two days of state, opposing defenses made it clear that Jamestown high-scoring guard Kyra Dewald wasn’t going to get many good looks. They guarded her with someone who would hold her jersey at times or bump, nudge and elbow her if she was coming by. Dewald, who averaged nearly 24 points a game at state, had a moment where her frustration showed against Wahpeton, and she was given a technical because of it. Many people have asked why Dewald didn’t make the all-tournament team at state — that’s why. As someone who has compiled those teams at past state tournaments, I can tell you the last stop before they are announced is to an NDHSAA official, who looks it over for any player that received a technical, or an unsportsmanlike conduct depending on the sport. If there is a guilty party, they are removed.
r When taking into account what the West Region loses, the Blue Jays should be in the mix for another Class A state tournament berth next season. Century will likely enter as favorites as its strong guard play and good depth in the middle should put it in the win column most nights. Minot has a couple girls and an outstanding freshman who will be back in its arsenal. Mandan and Bismarck, both with good programs, have two starters returning.
r For Jamestown to compete, the Blue Jays will have to use their athleticism to win games. Replacing Dewald’s 21 points per game could be difficult. Outside shooting will need to be improved, and 3-point specialist Erin Mullowney has the chance to make a difference there if she can continue to improve in other areas of her game. McKayla Orr, Paige Peterson and Addie Eamon will be good places to start for next year. Peterson (6-foot-1), Eamon (6-foot) and Katelyn Willer (6-1) give the Blue Jays a definite size advantage if they can take advantage of it by being physical. For all the returning experience, it could be the team’s bench that makes or breaks it next year. They’re quick, athletic and there’s plenty of guard help. Gaining experience will be the big thing.
r It doesn’t get any easier for West Region boys basketball. There are many returning starters, led by Bismarck St. Mary’s and Bismarck Century. In the East Region, Fargo Davies returns most of it kids. Expect these three to be the top teams in the first poll next year, probably in the order of St. Mary’s, Century and Fargo Davies.
r As far as the Jamestown boys are concerned, they’ll have their work cut out for them. The region will be tougher, because the bottom teams return many in their lineups. Turtle Mountain doesn’t graduate a single player off its roster, for example. Jamestown coach Kelley Kessler will likely head into next year’s first practice without any preconceived notions in regards to starting lineups and playing time. Guys like Nick Fuchs, Ashton Johnson, Scott Nelson, Logan Anderson and Marc Wagner showed promise, and I could see a starting lineup looking like that. I also see Tyler Ukestad, Ross Monson and Landon Weiser in the mix. They won’t be short on athleticism, but again, overall basketball ability will be a big area for needed improvement. A good offseason will be essential for this team.
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached by at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com