Area high school games to watch this week: Thompson's youth is hardly a drawback
The roster suggests building mode; the record indicates otherwise for the Thompson girls basketball team. The Tommies' 12-player roster includes six freshmen and two sophomores. But there have been no major growing pains. Thompson is two overtime...
The roster suggests building mode; the record indicates otherwise for the Thompson girls basketball team.
The Tommies' 12-player roster includes six freshmen and two sophomores. But there have been no major growing pains. Thompson is two overtime losses from having a perfect record, and is in the District 3 title hunt.
Thompson plays Dakota Prairie on Tuesday in McVille with the No. 1 spot in the district on the line. Dakota Prairie, 10-2 overall, is 8-0 in district points. Thompson, also 10-2, is 7-1 in district points. They're in a three-team race with Central Valley (11-3 overall, 8-2 district points) in the district.
"It's probably uncommon to see a team this young having this much success," Thompson coach Jason Brend said. "But we don't think of them as a bunch of freshmen. They're veterans."
Thompson is defending Region 2 champion. The starting lineup on last season's team included then-eighth grader Karleigh Weber. Three of the top reserves were her classmates, Shannon Galegher, Bethany Ivesdal and McKenna DeMoe.
Now Weber, Ivesdal and Galegher are in the starting lineup with seniors and returning starters Whitney Sponsler and Jennifer Hegg. DeMoe gets starter minutes as the top reserve.
"We're young," Brend said. "But those four freshmen are in their third season of high school basketball. They've got a lot of experience. And they're talented.
"They were more role players last year. This year, they've really stepped up their games."
Weber is the top freshman with a 12.3 scoring average. Galegher, a strong inside player, averages 9.3 points and 9.9 rebounds, while Ivesdal is at 5.4 points and DeMoe 5.8 points.
The big guns are the seniors. Hegg averages 9.4 points, 3.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Sponsler, a 1,000-point career scorer and an all-state pick last season, averages 18.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 6.3 steals.
"A lot of what we do runs through Whitney," Brend said. "She's just a great all-around player. She scores, she rebounds, she gets a lot of steals. Hegg is kind of the X factor. She doesn't have the big numbers. But she is the one who brings the energy, the fire, out on the team."
Dakota Prairie, like Thompson, is not senior-dominated. But the Knights have an outstanding three-player punch in juniors Brandy Messner and Shelby Gillett and Sabrina Rude, the team's lone senior.
Messner and Rude were all-conference picks last season, while Gillett was an honorable mention. Messner paces the team with an 18.1 scoring average, followed by Rude (17.2) and Gillett (14.6).
The trio accounts for 83 percent of the points Dakota Prairie has scored. Messner and Rude recently reached the 1,000-point mark for their careers.
"It's tough to defend one great scorer," Brend said. "Dakota Prairie puts three of them out there. Rude is an inside-outside threat. Gillett is an attacker, getting in the lane and creating shots for herself and teammates. Messner can not only post up, but can go outside and hit shots. They have a lot of talent."
In other area sporting events to watch this week:
n Dick Compton Memorial Shootout, Saturday: Three of the eight teams in the annual Grand Forks basketball day at Central High School have been top 10-ranked in North Dakota's weekly Class B poll. Warwick plays Midway-Minto, led by all-stater Philip Schanilec, at 11 a.m., followed by North Border against East Grand Forks Senior High. Two teams that have been ranked, Cavalier and Four Winds-Minnewaukan, play at 2:45 p.m., followed by top-ranked North Star against Stephen-Argyle.
n Cavalier at Grafton, tonight: First place in District 4 is on the line. These teams share that spot, both at 7-1 in points. Cavalier, Cavalier is 15-1 overall and ranked fourth in the state; Grafton is 12-3.
n Grafton at Central Cass, Saturday: Two of the state's best meet. Grafton, 12-1, was ranked seventh in last week's Class B state poll. Unbeaten Central Cass was ranked second and has a veteran group back from last season's state runner-up team.
n West Fargo at Warroad, Friday: Two defending state champions collide. Warroad has a veteran group back from the team that won the Minnesota Class A state title last season. West Fargo is defending North Dakota state champion and is led by Kacie Johnson and Andrea Klug -- the top scorer and goalie, respectively, on last season's team.
n Region 2 dual tournament, Saturday: Grafton hosts the dual regional. Defending champion and perennial power Carrington again figures to be the team to beat. Top challengers include Central Cass, Hillsboro and North Border-Cavalier.