FARGO — Kindred extended the longest active winning streak in North Dakota high school basketball as it defeated Fargo Oak Grove 71-35 in North Dakota Class B girls hoops Thursday at Oak Grove High School.
The Vikings, ranked No. 1 in Class B, haven’t lost in more than a year, tallying 25 consecutive victories dating back to Jan. 12 of last year. They finished the 2018-19 season on a 14-game winning streak on the way to a state title, and with Thursday’s win, have 11 straight wins to start this season.
“I don’t like to think about where we’re at, I just like to think about what we need to do to get the next one,” Kindred head coach Sam Brandt said. “Tonight was all about our mental mindset and being able to stay positive and playing together.”
The 36-point win was just another day at the office for Kindred, which wins games by an average of just over 32 points per game. They’ve only had one game finish within single digits this season, a 62-54 win over Grafton-St. Thomas. The Vikings have eclipsed 70 points in seven of their 11 games this year, and have held opponents to 41 or fewer points in eight.
The Vikings are a combined 79-9 across the last four seasons with state championships in 2017 and 2019. They’re aiming to be the sixth team in state history to repeat as state champions and become the fourth team in Class B history to win three or more championships. Bishop Ryan and Bottineau are each tied for the most titles with four, while Beach has three. The Vikings have nearly their entire team back from last year after losing just one player to graduation.
“I always tell them to worry about ourselves, that’s the only thing we can control,” Brandt said. “We have to be better than last year. That’s one thing they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we want to do this again, we’ve had a taste, we want to be better than last year. What can we do?’ So we’re really focusing on the little things — boxing out before we’re rebounding, communicating defensively, working on how we get through screens.”
After what Brandt classified as a slow start and a less-than-perfect first quarter on Thursday, the Vikings separated themselves in the second. They outscored the Grovers 25-5 in the quarter that included an 18-0 run.
“They have such high standards that they are so hard on themselves,” Brandt said. “They get down on themselves a little bit, so you’ve got to teach them you’ve got to build, you’ve got to build, you’ve got to build. They responded well.”
Kindred made life tough on Oak Grove with full-court pressure and a 2-3 zone and lived in the passing lanes, forcing turnover after turnover through the second quarter. After OG’s Morgan Niemiller made a 3-pointer early in the quarter, the Grovers didn’t record another point until the final minute of the quarter when Remi Johnson scored.
“We love to score on those steals and those transition points and those layups,” Brandt said. “They commit really well to that. They love it, they enjoy it, but it comes with a little risk. Sometimes you’re going to get beat. We’re going to keep on focusing on what we do well going into the end of the season, and defense is one of those things.”
Abby Duchscherer led the Vikings with 25 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter. The 6-foot-1 sophomore forward displayed her athleticism right away on her team’s first possession, crashing in from the right corner for an offensive rebound over the Grovers post players and draining the putback.
“Abby told me, ‘I just want the first quarter back,’” Brandt said. “I said, ‘Well, we can’t do that.’ But we went on a 25-5 run from there. The mindset has to be that they can’t just let the first eight minutes go by. So it was about them realizing that and turning it on.”
Kindred: Duchscherer 25, Foss 6, J. Burner 11, Freier 2, Johnson 10, K. Burner 8, Sunram 4, McQuillan 3, Olien 2.
Oak Grove: Anderson 4, Niemiller 9, Johnson 8, Lang 4, Larson 2, Mevold 8.