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Roller coaster ride: Peaks and valleys throughout season have made Jamestown better for the stretch run

Jamestown coach Andy Skunberg talks to his team Saturday in Bismarck. (Sun File Photo / Chris Aarhus)

Jan. 22 was a tough day for the Jamestown High School girls basketball team.

School wasn’t much different, yet most — if not all — walked around with a terrible feeling. The day before, the Blue Jays had lost a one-point game to Bismarck St. Mary’s, a team toward the bottom of the West Region.

“It was definitely a low point,” senior Paige Peterson said. “It happens.”

But the next day, Jamestown rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to stun Minot at home, avenging a road loss from earlier in the season.

“After we lost to St. Mary’s, you’re like ‘this stinks,’” Peterson said. “Then you beat a good team and you’re so happy that you think you can beat the best teams. It’s just how you bounce back from each game.”

The three-day stretch sums up Jamestown’s season — filled with emotional ups and downs.

“We’ve played with every team. For some reason, we’ve played to the level of our competition,” Jamestown coach Andy Skunberg said. “Hopefully, we’ve snapped out of that funk.”

Fourth-seeded out of the West Region, the Blue Jays host East Region top seed Fargo Shanley at 5 p.m. today in the opening round of the Class A state tournament at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Jamestown’s five seniors were realistic about the roller coaster of emotions they’ve faced this season.

“Those downs have really helped us get better,” senior Katelyn Willer said.

Mullowney, a senior, said she thinks about a loss to rival Valley City as well as St. Mary’s, though the Hi-Liners also made the state tournament.

“Valley City just pops into my head — I hope we get another chance to play them at state,” Mullowney said. “As our season’s gone on, we’ve definitely tried to come back and be stronger each time we play.”

Senior Addie Eamon said emotional ups and downs are a part of playing sports.

“With every sport, you have those moments of doubt,” Eamon said. “It’s looking at each other and saying, ‘I know I have my team behind me.’ Having that trust in your team is really important when you have those doubts.”

Senior point guard McKayla Orr said it’s about going back to work the next day, which seemed to work wonders for the Blue Jays.

“You have to come back to practice and give it your all,” Orr said. “Know that this is not the end and that we still have a long journey to go.”

It’s a point often repeated by coaches.

“It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Skunberg said. “We learned from that St. Mary’s game that we can’t take teams for granted. It’s a long, grinding season.”

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or