Imperial power: With a 61-55 win over Beach, Napoleon advancesThe Napoleon girls basketball team made program history here on Thursday, and it still has a couple chapters to write.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — The Napoleon girls basketball team made program history here on Thursday, and it still has a couple chapters to write.
With its 61-55 victory over Beach in the quarterfinals of the Class B state tournament, the Imperials can finish no worse than fourth place. In the team’s three previous trips to state — most recently in 1983 —the Imperials ended up no better than seventh, and Napoleon coach Darcy Lehr is happy day one is in the rearview mirror.
“Usually at the state tournament your first game has got the most pressure. If you want to keep playing on TV and stuff like that,” Lehr said. “I think the pressure game’s off, so hopefully we can play our game and get our transition going, because we’re a lot of fun to watch when we do that.”
The No. 3-ranked Imperials (23-1) move on to the state semifinals tonight for the first time ever, where they’ll face No. 8-ranked Central Cass (22-3) at 6:30. The Region 1 champion Squirrels dominated their quarterfinal game, 70-37, over Region 5 champion Grant County.
After three frustrating quarters of basketball for 2,000-plus career scorer Sheridon Dewald on Thursday, the senior Napoleon standout was there when her team needed her most. Dewald went 5-of-6 at the free-throw line and scored nine of her 17 points over the final 6 minutes of play.
Dewald was held scoreless in the third period, which saw the Buccaneers (19-6) replace a 33-23 deficit at the half with a 46-44 lead heading into the final period.
“The first half I was getting really frustrated. I let it get to my head, which I never should have,” Dewald said. “But my teammates just kept telling me to keep my head. They really got me through it, and that was how I was able to step up in the fourth quarter.”
The most important two points she scored came with just 44 seconds left to play. Leading Beach 56-54, Napoleon got the ball to Dewald quickly after an inbounds play with just 9 seconds left on the shot clock. Dewald drove the baseline to get by the Bucs’ defense and sank a clutch runner just as time on the shot clock was about to expire.
That four-point separation with less than a minute to go was what the team desperately needed. The Imperials went 3-of-4 at the foul line down the stretch to sew up the win.
“There was no person that we were going to draw a play for at that situation but Sheridon,” Lehr said. “She’s been our best player since she was an eighth-grader, and she’s a fantastic finisher.
“She’s a big-time player and she stepped up at the right moment there.”
But credit has to be given to Beach’s Bailey Waldal for bottling up Dewald for most of the game. Waldal, a 5-foot-7 junior, drew the assignment of guarding Napoleon’s ace. But with 5 minutes, 46 seconds left, her day ended after being whistled for her fifth foul.
Dewald scored all nine of her fourth-period points after Waldal exited the game.
“She picked up some early fouls that were uncharacteristic. That’s the way it rolls,” said Beach coach Bob Waldal, who is also the grandfather of Bailey and teammate Hailee Farstveet. “I don’t care who was guarding (Dewald). Hey, she’s a good player. They are here for a reason and they won that game for a reason.”
Napoleon appeared to have broken the game open in the second, using one of senior Kendra Weigel’s three 3-pointers during a 13-3 run late in the half to lead by 10 at the half. The Imperials had their transition game rolling, closing out the run with back-to-back buckets from Dewald and Brianna Wolf. Weigel scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half, while junior Mariah Jangula scored 11 of her 13 by the break for the Imperials.
“I told the girls at halftime this team will come back on you. I didn’t think they’d come back all the way and take the lead on us,” Lehr said. “That’s what good teams do. You can’t blow out anybody at the state tournament usually.”
Beach junior Cydni Stedman did all she could to rally the Bucs for the win, hitting a pair of 3s and converting a 3-point play early in the fourth as Beach led 49-46 with 7:06 left remaining. After hitting just eight field goals in the first half, Beach sank 10 in the third to outscore the Imperials 23-11. Stedman finished with a game-high 22 points, while Beach freshman Brooklynn Zachmann scored 11.
The Imperials went 16-of-19 at the line and shot near 50 percent from the floor (21-of-44). The Bucs went a chilly 9-of-27 from 3-point range.
“I think the whole frustrating thing of the whole night was giving up really easy looks,” Bob Waldal said, whose Bucs finished third at state last year. “They’re a hard team to defend. We played man-to-man defense the whole year, and I thought we’d play better in the half court than we did.”
Dewald said she’s hoping the Imperials play a better game today. Central Cass has played in two of the past three state championship games, falling to Beach in 2010 and Carrington in 2011.
“I think we were really nervous this game and I think (today) we’ll be a little bit more relaxed and be used to the court,” Dewald said. “Hopefully it’ll be a better game for us.”
Class B state tournament
At the Fargodome
Napoleon 61, Beach 55
Beach 14 23 46 55
Napoleon 15 33 44 61
Beach – Cydni Stedman 22, Brooklynn Zachmann 14, Hailee Farstveet 11, Bailey Waldal 8. Totals; 21-60 FG, 4-10 FT, 29 rebounds (Waldal 7), 9 assists (Farstveet 4), 1 block (Morgan Nunberg), 6 turnovers, 18 fouls (Waldal). 3-pointers: (9-27) Stedman 3, Farstveet 3, Zachmann 2, Waldal 1.
Napoleon – Sheridon Dewald 17, Kendra Weigel 17, Mariah Jangula 13, Mikayla Young 8, Brenna Schmidt 4, Brianna Wolf 2. Totals: 21-44 FG, 16-19 FT, 29 rebounds (Dewald 8), 8 assists (Weigel 2), 3 steals (3 with 1), 3 blocks (Jangula 2), 10 turnovers, 13 fouls (Weigel). 3-pointers: (3-11) Weigel 3.
Records: Napoleon 23-1; Beach 19-6.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701)
952-8461 or by email at