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Kidder County girls basketball cruising

Kidder County's Grace Benz goes up for two over Enderlin's Georgina Orn Saturday during the University of Jamestown Shootout at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Kidder County's Madelyn Schmidt moves the ball up court while being guarded by Enderlin's Kaylie Schlecht Saturday during the University of Jamestown Shootout at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Just when it was believed Region 3 girls basketball couldn't get any tougher, here comes Grace Benz and the Kidder County Wolves.

Benz eclipsed 1,000 career points Friday in the Wolves' 58-44 defeat of top-ranked Langdon-Edmore-Munich at the University of Jamestown Shootout. Kidder County followed that up with a convincing 56-29 victory over Enderlin to finish the shootout Saturday at Harold Newman Arena.

The Wolves (7-3) are proving capable of muscling into contention in a region stacked with talent. As of last Tuesday, Region 3's Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier (9-0), LaMoure-Litchville-Marion (8-1), Carrington (7-2) and Medina-Pingree-Buchanan (7-2) were all ranked inside the state's top 10 Class B teams.

"All those teams are so good," said Benz, who now stands at 1,039 career markers after the 5-foot-10 senior forward dropped in 22 more against Enderlin. "We're kinda the underdogs in the region right now, but I think we can play with those teams."

Enderlin (7-3) was completely suffocated by Kidder County's full-court press Saturday. The Wolves forced the Eagles into 16 first-quarter turnovers and took a commanding 21-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

Benz produced 10 points and five steals in the opening frame, and an equally impressive game unfolded for Kidder County freshman guard Madelyn Schmidt. Introduced as Madelyn "Mad Dog" Schmidt in the opening lineups ceremony, Schmidt scored 19 total points on 8 of 14 shots from the field, 3 of 6 from 3-point range.

"I wasn't sure how we were going to come out today, being yesterday was kind of an emotional game for us, knocking off the top team in the state," Kidder County coach Dan Welder said. "But I liked their focus. I told (the team) before the game we needed to refocus on today, and we did and I'm happy with the effort."

The Wolves led by as many as 39 points early in the fourth quarter (54-15), and ended up forcing 36 Eagle turnovers. Enderlin sophomore Danica Wendel scored each of her team-leading 11 points in the final period.

Benz averaged 18.5 points, 11 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game last season as a junior, leading Kidder County to 16 wins and a trip to the Region 3 tourney.

"We're pretty confident right now," Benz said. "Our defense is getting better and better every game and that's just going to help us win these big games."

One of the Wolves' three losses was a 67-54 setback at fourth-ranked Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier, but an impressive weekend in Jamestown has put Welder's Wolves on the radar.

"I'll just say it, it is the toughest region in the state," Welder said. "You can't overlook anyone. If we're the one being overlooked, so be it, but everyone's schedule is tough."

KC 21 30 52 56

END 4 8 15 29

KC—Grace Benz 22, Maelyn Schmidt 19, Jaslyn Magstadt 7, Brittany Rath 6, Hailey Pfaff 2. Totals: 23-61 FG, 5-9 FT, 5-19 3-pointers (Schmidt 3, Magstadt, Benz), 21 Rebounds (Magstadt 5, Pfaff 5, Benz 4), 17 Fouls, 10 Turnovers.

END—Danica Wendel 11, Brooke Christensen 6, Kaylie Schlect 4, Katelyn Tingley 3, Georgina Orn 2, Haley Olson 2, Raelee Bartholomay 1. Totals: 10-25 FG, 7-12 FT, 2-10 3-pointers (Tingley, Wendel), 34 Rebounds (Christensen 6, Olson 5), 11 Fouls, 36 Turnovers.

Records: KC 7-3. END 7-3.

University of Jamestown Shootout

Saturday's scores


At Jamestown High School

Sacred Heart (EGF, Minn.) 87, Oakes 67.

Langdon-EM 82, Medina-PB 39.

Dakota Prairie vs. Bismarck Century (PPD).

Kidder County 70, Enderlin 61.

Hatton-Northwood 72, Napoleon-GS 52.


At Harold Newman Arena

Napoleon-GS 48, Dakota Prairie 37.

Sacred Heart (EGF, Minn.) 62, Oakes 42.

Kidder County 56, Enderlin 29.

(4) Edgeley-KM 61, Park Christian 46.

(1) Langdon-EM 55, (6) Carrington 51.

Lakota-AE 41, Hatton-Northwood 27.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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