Carrington, Oakes top seeds in District 5 girls basketball tournament
The Cardinals are trying to win their second district title in three years.
JAMESTOWN — After the 2021 District 5 Championship game, the Carrington Cardinals and the Oakes Tornadoes enter as the top two seeds and are set on a collision course to rematch in the 2023 District 5 Championship game.
The top two seeds in the tournament are No. 1 Carrington and No. 2 Oakes. The Cardinals come into the tournament with a 15-4 overall record and a 5-0 record in district play. The Tornadoes finished second in the district with a 16-2 overall record and a 5-1 record in district play. The Tornadoes' only loss in the district came against the Cardinals on Jan. 19.
The Cardinals have a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the L/L-M and Ellendale game at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11. Cardinals head coach Andy Braaten said his team will not be at the Jamestown Civic Center to scout the Loboes and the Cardinals but will be spending the day on Friday practicing at their own gym preparing for the tournament.
“It’s maybe an advantage to the teams that are playing the first round they maybe get used to the court a little bit more,” Braaten said. “Our kids have played the Stutsman, they’ve played other tournaments down there. Hopefully, we feel pretty comfortable playing Saturday even though the winner of that quarterfinal game will have the experience on the floor from the previous day.”
Braaten said his team’s key to win the tournament is to play with good fundamentals.
This season, the Cardinals are being led on the scoring front by Madison Johnson, who is averaging 12.7 points per game. Johnson is one of five upperclassmen on the roster that Braaten says he hopes steps up for his team in this tournament.
The district tournament is double elimination which gives teams a chance to get into the region tournament if they lose their first- or second-round game.
“That’s what's nice about the district tournament, you get a little of that double elimination feel,” Braaten said. “We want to go in thinking if we play our game we’ll be successful.”
The Tornadoes open their tournament at 6 p.m. on Feb. 10, when they take on No. 7-seeded Barnes County North. Despite the Bison struggling this year, Tornadoes head coach Judy Hansen said her team won’t be overlooking their opening-round opponent.
“Take (it) one game at a time and don’t overlook anyone,” Hansen said. “Our goal is to play our best basketball every night and trust each other on the court.”
The Tornadoes enter the tournament on a seven-game winning streak, during which they have outscored their opponents 410-246.
“They have worked really hard this week in our preparation for the next two tourneys,” Hansen said. “They love basketball and competing. They have played together since they were really young and this would be just the icing on the cake to accomplish the goals they set for themselves this year.”
The Tornadoes and the Bison played on Jan. 31, with the Tornadoes getting a 55-13 win.
“We were able to get some kids that have worked really hard in practice some great minutes on the varsity court that night,” Hansen said. “We will change that up a bit and get our starters a lot of minutes to get comfortable on the court and get some quality shots up to prepare us for the next couple days.”
In last year’s tournament, the Tornadoes made it all the way to the district championship game before falling to LaMoure/Litchville-Marion. The Cardinals lost in the second round to the Tornadoes last year but got into the region tournament after beating Griggs-Midkota in the second consolation round.
Early in January, the Cardinals went on a two-game losing streak but responded to finish the season, winning five of their last seven games.
“We played some pretty good basketball teams during that streak so we learned some things; can’t turn the ball over, take care of the ball so we can get a decent shot,” Braaten said. “Just being ready to play four quarters, that was a big thing. You give up a big quarter against a good team and usually, it’s hard to rebound from that.”
The Cardinals faced both of their possible opponents earlier this season, getting a 66-20 win over Ellendale on Jan. 5 and a 55-40 win over the Loboes on Jan. 26.
“They've both got pretty good size,” Braaten said. “Both of them have some experienced players and some leadership and you just gotta go in with a frame of mind that we’re out there to play basketball and try to do the things that we do well, do those things and take away some of the things that the opponent does well.”
If the top two seeds face each other in this tournament, it will be in the championship game. In 2021, the Cardinals beat the Tornadoes in the district championship game.
Hansen and the Tornadoes are trying to win their first district championship since they won District 1 in 1997.
“I would love for this team to experience that,” Hansen said. “It’s been quite a while since Oakes has won the District 5 tourney so it would be great for the girls to reap the rewards of the work they have put in since November.”