North girls win region, gain steam for state with 48th win in row
Right now, a three-game winning streak is all Fargo North desires. Which might seem odd for a team that won its 48th consecutive game Saturday night by beating Grand Forks Red River 55-40 for the East Region girls basketball championship at the F...
Right now, a three-game winning streak is all Fargo North desires.
Which might seem odd for a team that won its 48th consecutive game Saturday night by beating Grand Forks Red River 55-40 for the East Region girls basketball championship at the Fargodome.
But three straight victories later this week at the North Dakota Class A tournament will give the Spartans a state title. That, and nothing less, is what this team wants. Anything less, the players admit, will be a disappointment.
"This group has played together for years and our goal has always been to win the state tournament as seniors," North's Carissa Jahner said. "We will be focused on that this week."
That does not bode well for the rest of the tournament field, Red River coach Terry West said.
"They can be beat, but I don't know if they can be beat in the next week," he said. "They are going to be so focused that it is going to be tough for everybody else."
Red River might stand as good a chance as anybody. The Roughriders' two losses to North this year have been by 16 and 15 points. Considering the Spartans have won their 22 games by an average of 35 points, that's a pair of relatively strong showings.
Red River had a robust start Saturday. The Roughriders led 14-12 at the end of the first quarter and stretched that advantage to 23-17 with 4½ minutes remaining in the second quarter.
But, as it has done so many times the past two seasons, North began to impose its will with superior athleticism and talent.
Behind eight points from Kayla Dahlen, the Spartans outscored Red River 14-2 the rest of the half to take a 31-25 halftime lead.
By the end of the third quarter, North led 42-29. That meant the Spartans went on a 25-6 run after falling behind by six points in the first quarter.
"Red River is a team that always comes out playing hard right from the start," Dahlen said. "They come out with a lot of intensity and jump on you right away. It took us awhile to get going."
Dahlen led North with 17 points to become the school's career scoring leader. Her 1,183 points broke the previous mark held by Julie Solberg, who played from 1984-87.
"That's really an award for all of us, not just me," Dahlen said. "It's not just me making shots, it's getting great passes from Carissa and Katie (Dahlen) and all the players."
It was just one of several honors bestowed upon the Spartans. It was the team's third straight region championship. Jahner was named the Eastern Dakota Conference's senior player of the year. Anne Watkins was named the co-coach of the year. Jahner, Kayla Dahlen and Katie Dahlen were named to the all-conference team.
"They know the game. They are smart players. They are great athletes. They are great shooters," West said. "Any aspect of the game of basketball you want to say, just put the word 'great' in front of it and that describes Fargo North."
Which doesn't mean much to the Spartans unless they are able to go on one, last three-game winning streak.
GF Red River 14 25 29 40
Fargo North 12 31 42 55
GFRR: Lentz 2 0-0 5, Homstad 0 5-6 5, Polovitz 2 0-1 5, Norloch 2 0-0 4, Larter 0 0-0 0, Nelson 0 0-0 0, Hichel 2 0-0 4, Eickenbrock 5 1-2 11, Wheeler 1 2-2 4, Dahlstrom 0 0-0 0, Runck 0 0-0 0, Holtan 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 8-11 40.
NORTH: Reberg 0 0-0 0, Shockman 2 2-2 6, Jahner 3 1-2 7, Kayla Dahlen 6 4-4 17, Katie Dahlen 5 0-0 14, Larson 0 0-0 0, Fiechtner 5 1-2 11. Totals: 21 8-10 55.
3-point goals: Lentz, Polovitz, Kayla Dahlen, Katie Dahlen 4. Total fouls: GFRR 13, North 15. Rebounds: GFRR 33 (Polovitz 9), North 29 (Fiechtner 9). Turnovers: GFRR 24, North 15.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5580