District 12 race shaping up to be ‘dog fight’
District 12’s top talent will be on display Saturday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium when all eight teams are in action at “District 12 Day.”
Seeding for the district boys basketball tournament beginning Feb. 13 also at the Aud have yet to be decided, but any of the top four teams could reign supreme come tournament time.
No. 7 Des Lacs-Burlington, No. 8 Berthold, Our Redeemer’s Christian School and Bishop Ryan currently hold the top four spots with two district games remaining for each team. DL-B (14-2 overall, 5-0 district) defeated ORCS (14-3, 4-1) Tuesday to take sole possession of first place. The Lakers can lock up the regular-season title with a victory against Berthold (14-1, 4-1) in a rematch of last year’s district championship game.
The Lakers also hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Ryan (10-4, 3-2) an 80-70 victory on Jan. 23. If the season were to end today, the two rivals could meet in the tournament semifinals.
“We just think that semifinal round is going to be just brutal,” DL-B coach Doug Wagner said. “There’s going to be four good basketball teams in that semifinal round. It’s going to be a battle.”
ORCS looks to bounce back from its first district loss of the season when the Knights play Surrey. A victory would break ORCS’ single-season wins record set last year. The Knights’ signature win came on the road against previously-unbeaten Berthold on Jan. 23, giving ORCS the inside track for the No. 2 seed.
“Our district’s going to be a dog fight,” ORCS coach Jeremy Feller said. “You have a lot of very good basketball teams. Not only that but if you can find a way to get to regionals, there’s at least five teams that could win the region. It’s going to come down to who’s the best team that given night. “
Second-ranked Rugby, which could move up to the top spot in the poll after No. 1 Milnor’s loss Tuesday, and Drake-Anamoose are currently undefeated in District 11 play. The Raiders play at Rugby on Friday. The Panthers defeated DL-B and Ryan earlier this year.
Berthold and Ryan occupy the third and fourth seeds, respectively, at the moment. The Bombers defeated the Lions 73-57 on Jan. 9 in the district opener for both teams. Ryan is still looking for a signature district win and has one final chance when it hosts ORCS on Feb. 4. The Lions can match their win total from last year with a victory Saturday against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.
Though still looking for a statement district win, Ryan does have a victory against a top-10 opponent. The Lions defeated No. 6 Hazen 78-69 on Dec. 20 and is the only team to play Rugby with 10 points.
The top four teams in the district all rank in the state’s top 15 in points scored per game, led by DL-B at 79.5. All four also rank in the top 17 in margin of victory, leaving the district tournament up for grabs.
“Our focus is to seed ourselves well for the district tournament,” Feller said. “We don’t care which two games, but find a way to win two games and let something fun happen.”
in on TGU
The TGU girls basketball team is in the thick of the congested District 11 standings and senior forward Mattie Schmitt is a big reason why.
Schmitt is averaging 22 points per game and has topped the 20-point mark in all but two contests this season. In her final year with the Titans (9-3 overall, 2-1 district), the 5-foot-11 senior has been the team’s leading scorer in each game. She amassed a season-high 33 points against Benson County in a 53-47 win on Jan. 11.
TGU has needed every one of Schmitt’s points this season. The Titans have won six games by 10 points or fewer and are outscoring opponents by just four points per game.
With each basket, Schmitt is inches closer to TGU’s all-time scoring record of 1,518 points. In a 77-36 victory for TGU on Monday, Schmitt recorded 23 points and eclipsed 1,400 for her career.
“It’s one of my all-time goals I set since I started playing basketball, so that would be a good feeling to meet it,” Schmitt said. “The whole team thing is more important, though.”
While the scoring title would be a nice achievement, Schmitt is more concerned with prolonging her high school career for as long as possible. The best way to ensure that is with a high seed heading into the district tournament. That will require a team effort, something Schmitt has learned in her years at TGU.
“I think I realized you get a lot more done and achieve more as a team, so I concentrate on the team aspect and individual stuff will come along once you achieve more as a team,” she said.
The Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over district-leader Bottineau (7-7, 4-1) and Velva (8-2, 2-1), but lost to Rugby (5-7, 2-1). TGU still has district games against Sawyer (7-4, 2-1) and Dunseith, Drake-Anamoose and Westhope-Newburg, who are a combined 0-8 in league play.
Schmitt said her goal in her final season is to play all three nights at the Region 6 tournament, which would mean a victory in the first round to ensure at least a fourth-place showing.
Cheyenne Packineau isn’t the only basketball player at Parshall High School that’s been putting up big numbers the past few weeks.
Parshall senior guard Jade Moran surpassed 1,000 career points for the boys basketball team Monday. Moran dropped 29 points in an 86-48 victory against Divide County to reach the milestone.
In his last six games, Moran has averaged 23.8 points per game. The 5-foot-9 senior led his team in scoring in all six games. In the eight games prior, Moran averaged 13.6 points and was the team’s leading scorer just once 18 points against Kenmare on Dec. 16.
Moran has recorded four straight 20-point games, including a season-high 30 in an 84-69 win against Ray on Friday, He didn’t hit the 20-point mark in any of his first eight games and was held under 10 points twice.
Moran’s production has led to wins as the Braves (10-6 overall, 2-2 District 15) are 6-1 when he leads the team in scoring.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23-MDN.