On to State B
Posted 3/03/10 (Wed)
2009-2010 Region 6 champions Kenmare Honkers
By Caroline Downs
making return trip
to State Class B
The Minot Auditorium was filled with maroon and gold Thursday night as the Kenmare Honkers played the Westhope-Newburg Sioux for the Region 6 girls basketball title.
The game just happened to be a repeat of the 2009 championship match, and for the second year running, the Honkers came out on top with a 51-41 victory and a berth in the Class B girls state basketball tournament.
Kenmare fans declared their loyalty early, creating a human tunnel that stretched across the court as the team took the floor. The game’s first seconds were tense, however, as the Sioux’s Kendra Thom drew a foul on Katie King seven seconds into the game and drilled two free throws, then joined her teammates in a full court press for the Honkers’ opening possession.
Kenmare played with focus, however, as the Honkers ran their offense and fed the ball to Erika Lemere for a sweet jump shot at the top of the key 30 seconds later. That focus remained evident as the Sioux took an 8-2 lead on a back-to-back three-point shots.
The two defenses stalled any offense, with Kenmare preventing any shots for two full minutes with their signature half court defense and the Sioux pressuring every Honkers’ possession. Addie Thompson added three points for the Sioux at the 3:40 mark, followed by a put-back from Thom on an offensive rebound 30 seconds later, but those were the last points Westhope-Newburg scored in the quarter.
In the meantime, King, Lemere and Harris worked with their teammates to dismantle the Sioux’s defensive tactics and score points inside to tie the game at 13-13 by the quarter’s end.
Lemere gave the Honkers’ fans something to cheer about 34 seconds into the second quarter as she made a basket inside on a feed from Harris. There was plenty of action up and down the court for the next two minutes, but no points scored as both defenses prevented progress until the 5:07 mark, when Kortni Miller scored as Froseth and King connected the dots on a press-breaking play.
The defenses battled on, but Chelsey Zietz made her way into the scorebook and gave the Honkers a 19-13 lead at 3:17 on an inbounds play. Westhope-Newburg went a full five minutes and 15 seconds without scoring, but Thompson and McKayla Artz each found the basket within the next minute for their team’s only points of the quarter. Meanwhile, Zietz popped off a 3-pointer for Kenmare’s 22-17 advantage that held until halftime.
Thom pulled her team within a basket as the third quarter opened, first on a field goal and then on a free throw after a foul by Dayna Froseth. Zietz was fouled as the Honkers ran their press-breaker, and scored on the first free throw, then missed the second only to watch King rebound the ball and put it back for a 25-20 lead.
Points accumulated slowly for both teams as their defensive strategies ruled the court. King added a free throw, then an inside shot on a Harris feed for a 28-20 margin, only to see Kristin Arneson sink a shot for the Sioux. Zietz popped off an outside shot, though, and Harris added two points inside.
Westhope-Newburg bumped up their score on a 3-pointer by Artz and a field goal by Alisha Braaten, but the quarter finished at 34-27 after a hard-driving play by Harris sent her to the free throw line and gave Thom her fourth foul in the game.
Both defenses continued to hold up the shot opportunities in the fourth quarter, with no one scoring until the Thom’s field goal almost two minutes into the period. King answered with her own shot inside 15 seconds later. Westhope-Newburg pulled within four points at the 5:42 mark as Thompson drained a 3-point attempt.
Twenty seconds later, Lemere hit a shot from the top of the key, followed by another basket in the next minute on a feed by King, who managed the assist despite being double-teamed.
At the 3-minute mark, King’s inside shot put Kenmare up 42-33, and the battle continued up and down the court, with the Sioux managing points by Thompson and Braaten before another King drive inside put up two points for the Honkers.
Westhope-Newburg refused to go away and scored twice within the next 30 seconds to close the gap to 44-41, still in Kenmare’s favor but with a slight shift in energy on the court. They set up the press, but the Honkers broke it, resulting in a King field goal under the basket. Fouls in the game’s final minute gave the Honkers five more points on free throws by Zietz, Harris and King and sealed the Region 6 title.
KHS head coach Jason Schwarz immediately pointed to the play of Zietz and Lemere as key to the Honkers’ success. “We said they were going to take Katie away and take Macie away,” he said. “This team comes through in tough games. The difference for us was Erika and Chelsey hitting the big shots they did.”
He also praised the team for their patience on offense, especially in the fourth quarter. “We got the ball inside to Katie then,” he said. “She got in some foul trouble early, but she bounced back and kind of took over the game for us. We feel more comfortable when she’s out there, even if she doesn’t do anything!”
King’s first foul led Schwarz to his decision about changing to a zone defense for the game. “It’s a credit to the kids when we make those adjustments,” he said. “I’d watched [Westhope-Newburg] in their district tournament and the first two games of the regional, and they’ve struggled against the zone.”
Zietz finished with one of her best scoring performances of the season. “We knew they would guard Macie and Katie more,” she said, “and I just wanted to win. Since it could possibly be my last game, I wanted to play it like a last game.”
Zietz was ecstatic about her second trip to the state tournament. For Froseth, who returned to the court after sitting out last basketball season, the appearance will be her first with the team. “I’m excited,” she said. “It means one more week of high school sports. This is something you can’t trade, even the memories of the team together off the floor.”
Froseth was pleased with the way the offense worked together in the championship. “We had a lot of nice looks and we were getting the ball to Katie when we needed to,” she said. “Erika stepped up and hit some big shots for us.”
The win gives Harris a return trip to the state event, but she described the opportunity as a once-in-a-lifetime chance. “Look at all the good teams who were in this tournament,” she said. “You play as a team for your school and for your community, and now we’re going [to the state tournament] to represent the region, too. It feels good.”
Harris realized early in the game that she was a target for the Sioux’s defense, but she noted her teammates’ abilities to work together. “The other girls stepped up and got rebounds,” she said. “We ran plays and people contributed.”
Four Honkers scored in double figures for the game, topped by King’s double-double performance at 18 points and 10 rebounds. Zietz had 11 points in the game, and Lemere and Harris turned in 10 apiece. Kortni Miller added 2 points.
Harris finished with 6 assists and two steals, while King made 3 assists. Miller grabbed 6 rebounds and made 2 steals and 1 assist.
The Sioux were paced by 16 points from Kendra Thom and 14 by Addie Thompson.
Kenmare averaged 40.8 percent in field goals at 20 of 49, including an amazing 66.7 percent during the fourth quarter, and 52.9 percent in free throws at 9 of 17. Westhope-Newburg averaged 26.3 percent in field goal shooting at 15 of 57 and 50 percent from the free throw line. Turnovers were low for both teams, with 13 for the Honkers and 12 for the Sioux.
In Thursday’s third place game, Des Lacs-Burlington outplayed Mohall Lansford Sherwood 46-43, with the Mavericks making a run for the win in the fourth quarter.
King was named to the All-Region 6 team for Kenmare. She was joined by Thom of Westhope-Newburg, Deidre Karhoff of DLB, Summer Romine of MLS, Kelsey Peltier and Laura Diepolder of Bottineau, Courtney Jacobsen of Our Redeemer’s, Crystal Hovland of Rugby, Kayla Nelsen of Surrey and Sarah Weidler of Velva.
KHS vs. Central Cass
1 pm Thursday
The Honkers will open the Class B state tournament on Thursday with the 1 pm game against Region 1 champion Central Cass at the Minot State University Dome. “We want to win that first game,” said Schwarz. “That would be a huge confidence builder.”
He predicted the Honkers would improve on their 6th place showing at the 2009 state tournament. “Last year, we were satisfied to make it,” he said. “This year, let’s just take it a step further and be hungrier.”
The seniors know their first state game is scheduled during the work day, but they hope to see a large contingent of Kenmare supporters in the stands. “The fans did a great job on the floor tonight,” Harris said while the Honkers crowd still cheered and congratulated their players after the region championship.
“I don’t know if the fans realize it, but the cheering helps us so much,” said Zietz.
“We want everyone to come out and be loud because we like loud crowds,” added Froseth. “I know it’s a 1 pm game, but we still have to play it like any other game.”
Harris doesn’t want Kenmare fans to get complacent about state tournament appearances. “It doesn’t get old,” she said. “The atmosphere at the state tournament is a different thing. Just come out and support us!”
Kenmare goes 4-0 against MLS
MLS scored one point at the 6:45 mark of the first quarter in a semi-finals contest against Kenmare February 23rd, as the Mavericks’ Kirsten Johnson held the ball nearly at half court during three different possessions, trying to draw the tight Honkers’ defense out of position. That was the Mavericks’ only point of the quarter, however, as the Kenmare defense shut them down and took a 7-1 lead on shots by King, Lemere and Miller.
That outcome set the tone for the game, the fourth meeting between the two teams this season, resulting in the Honkers’ fourth win at 42-24.
The Mavericks actually outscored Kenmare 10-9 in the second quarter but the Honkers maintained their edge. Harris opened the quarter with a field goal, but Kenmare went nearly four minutes without a point, until Lemere hit two free throws, followed by a Munson basket.
With 30 seconds left in the quarter, Harris sank two free throws for a 16-9 Kenmare lead, but Miller made contact with Jackie Miller on the other end of the court and earned a technical in the process. Jackie Miller only made two of her four free throw attempts, so the Honkers closed out the second quarter with a 16-11 advantage.
MLS pulled within two points nearly a minute into the third quarter as Jackie Miller drained a 3-pointer, even as Froseth, Kortni Miller, and Harris missed their shot attempts. The sticky Kenmare defense prevailed, however, foiling any other attempts by the Mavericks to score, and finally, at 5:35, Zietz boosted the Honkers again with her own successful 3-point shot.
Within the next three minutes, King scored on an inside drive, Munson on a 3-pointer and Harris on a steal and a lay-up, with the Honkers hustling back each time to frustrate the MLS offense. Summer Romine hit a jumper for the Mavericks with 12 seconds left, closing out the third period at 26-16 in favor of Kenmare.
The fourth quarter opened with a steal by King and a foul on Lemere, who drained both her free throws. King and Lemere combined forces again two possessions later, with Lemere passing inside to King for an easy two points. As the Mavericks appeared more and more frustrated, the Honkers defense, led by Froseth, only appeared to get stronger, breaking up plays and forcing outside shots.
In the meantime, Harris and Miller scored on back-to-back 3-pointers in the middle of the quarter for a 40-22 margin. King scored the final two points for Kenmare at the 1:58 mark, while Jackie Miller’s shot at 1:34 proved to be the last points for MLS. The next minute and a half saw a defensive fight up and down the court, with Kenmare stealing the ball from the Mavericks in the final eight seconds to cap the victory.
“They know us very well, and we know them,” Schwarz said after the game, pointing to the uncharacteristically low field goal percentages for both teams. “It came down to people having confidence to make some shots. Chelsey got us going, then Lexi got one [3-pointer] and Macie got one and even Kortni had her signature bank shot 3-pointer.”
Schwarz said the Honkers don’t keep track of their ugly and their pretty wins. “They just find a way to survive and make it to the next round,” he said. “A win is a win.”
He cited the team’s defensive play as a key, with Jackie Miller held to 10 points and Romine to 4. “We didn’t make many mistakes on those two tonight,” he said. “Everybody played so well together as a unit on that end of the floor. We’ve got the kids who’ve got the abilities--the quickness, talent, athleticism and good head on their shoulders--to play that kind of defense.”
Harris and King paced the Honkers’ balanced scoring attack with 10 points apiece. Lemere and Munson added 7 points each, Miller 5 and Zietz 3.
King grabbed 9 rebounds, while Lemere had 8 and Miller 6.
Miller finished with 5 steals in the game, while Harris made 2.
Jackie Miller led the Mavericks with 10 points, while Kirsten Johnson added 7.
Kenmare averaged only 25 percent from the field at 13 of 52, while MLS finished at 30 percent with 9 of 30. From the charity stripe, the Honkers shot 66.7 percent in the game, at 12 of 18, while the Mavericks were 36.4 percent at 4 of 11.
The Honkers committed 9 turnovers in the game, while the Mavericks were forced to 20.
In the night’s other semi-finals game, Westhope-Newburg prevailed over Des Lacs-Burlington 53-46.