After an undefeated season and a North Dakota Class B state championship in 2020, the Cardinals are returning to the state tournament this season, taking on Carrington on Thursday in a quarterfinal game at the Minot State Dome.
Being the defending champion, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the Cardinals are favored to repeat.
“We went through the year and we struggled,” said Langdon-E-M coach Rob Scherr. “We lost the last three games of the (regular season) and honestly, we needed a boost.”
Despite the three consecutive losses to Four Winds-Minnewaukan, Grafton and Velva, Langdon-E-M found that boost from his younger players in the postseason. After their junior varsity season ended, Scherr was able to rotate those players in the lineup and in doing so infused chemistry. The additions worked out well in a regional tournament rematch against Four Winds-Minnewaukan. Langdon picked up the 48-42 win and a repeat state tournament berth as Scherr was able to rotate nine players.
There was hope at the start of the year that the returners would be able to fill the space left by last year’s seniors Callie Ronningen and Kaitlynn Scherr. Preparation for the upcoming season during the pandemic hindered progress in that area.
“Without time to develop that trust and leadership amongst our new crew coming back, we struggled,” said Scherr. “The girls after the first game of the year really missed them. That was understandable and I knew things would happen, but when game 19 happened and they still said they missed them … Well, to me, that was unacceptable.
“Newsflash, they’re not coming back. We have to correct it here. (Ronningen and Scherr) provided such great leadership these last years that it was hard, without a summer, to allow these girls to develop into their roles,” Scherr said.
Then, strong performances in the district and regional tournaments swung momentum and confidence in their favor heading into the state tournament. The Cardinals had a taste of everything.
A high-scoring affair against Dunseith, more dominant victories over Rolla and New Rockford-Sheyenne, and closer ones with Nelson County and Four Winds-Minnewaukan all contributed to five consecutive wins after ending the regular season on a three-game skid.
“When we hit a lull offensively, you just need somebody to make one play,” Scherr said. “You have more pep in your step after that. You can see the bounce back and the belief. We built off that.”
This will be the second meeting of the season between Langdon-E-M and Carrington. In January, Carrington defeated Langdon-E-M 51-37.
“Hopefully the girls can keep it up,” said Scherr of his team’s late-season success. “We expect a hard-fought team that is aggressive and is going to go after it and we’re excited about it,” Scherr said of the matchup against Carrington.
Langdon-E-M at a glance
Coach: Rob Scherr, fourth season
Leading scorers: Morgan Freije 11.8 ppg, Jaya Henderson 11.2 ppg, Kaylee Lowery 11.2 ppg
Leading rebounders: Kaylee Lowery 7.0 rpg, Morgan Freije 5.4 ppg, Jay Henderson 5.3 rpg
Assist leaders: Morgan Freije 3.0 apg, Lexis Olson 1.8 apg, Kaylee Lowery 1.8 apg
Of note: Langdon-Edmore-Munich won last season’s state Class B girls tournament, defeating Grafton in the title game.