FASTBREAK: Potential again high for Kidder County girls
The Kidder County girls basketball team will be looking to reach a third consecutive Region 3 championship game this coming winter, but it's a long road to that potential tipoff.
"With COVID-19 going on, I am going to stress to the girls to take as many precautions as possible in order for them to continue their season," Kidder County head coach Dan Welder said. "Mask up, stay out of large gatherings, and being smart when out in public are a few things we will emphasize. We know that some issues may come up, but as long as we do our part, we feel that we should have a nice season."
A season that will hopefully end on top of Region 3 and at the 2021 Class B state tournament, tentatively scheduled for March 4-6 in Minot.
Kidder County has appeared in six consecutive district championship games along with back-to-back regional championship games. After coming up short in the regional title game last year, Welder said the girls are hungry and looking forward to having a competitive season.
The Wolves will return three of their five starters from last season's 21-3 squad, a luxury Welder said will contribute to strong team chemistry.
"Madelyn Schmidt is a two-time all-state guard for us," Welder said. "She runs the point and basically gets us going throughout the game with her intensity and leadership. This will be Madelyn's fifth year in the starting lineup."
As a junior, Schmidt averaged 17.6 points and consistently nabbed around five rebounds per game. The 5-foot-5 guard hit triple digits for total assists and played an aggressive defense making 86 steals. Schmidt also made 79 buckets from beyond the arc.
Hailey Pfaff is another solid contributor returning, averaging 6.8 points per game a year ago. The 5-foot-7 senior recorded 56 assists and drained 23 from three-point range.
"Hailey has been a key player for us since she was a freshman," Welder said. "She is a good 3-point shooter and is very consistent on the defensive end."
Welder said the Wolves have historically been tough on the defensive side of the court. The head coach said the tradition will continue this season but added that due to a lack of height at some positions, rebounding is an area of concern.
Thankfully the team has Kennedy Harter at their disposal. The 5-foot-10 sophomore averaged four rebounds and 7.5 points per game as a freshman. Harter also used her 5-foot-10 frame to block a team-high of 27 shots.
"Kennedy has started for us since her eighth-grade year," Welder said. "She is a long, athletic post player who continues to improve each year. She works hard to get better over the summer and with the loss of a few girls due to graduation, Kennedy will have to step up for us this year."
While Avery Rath doesn't have Harter's height, Welder said the 5-foot-4 returner is a fundamentally strong player who plays an aggressive defensive game. Rath made 25 steals and tallied 52 assists during her freshman campaign.
The Wolves have the experience and the benefit of added underclassmen talent this season, but Welder is keenly aware of what the District 6 champs will be up again this season.
"It seems like every year Region 3 is the hardest region in the state," Welder said. "We always seem to have high-quality teams in the area. Carrington, Oakes, and Lamoure will all be very solid (along) with a number of teams in District 5 with some nice young talent.
"District 6 will be competitive with Linton-HMB being the favorite. MPB will return a nice core as well. The rest of the district should remain competitive as long as everyone stays healthy."