Shanley, Davies off to 3-0 starts in Class A girls basketball

FARGO – The season is still young, but two metro girls basketball teams – Fargo Shanley and Fargo Davies – are off to 3-0 starts.

Fargo Shanley – the defending champions of North Dakota Class A – is ranked No. 1 in the state and features a strong group of returning talent from the team that won a state title last March in Minot.

Depth and defense are two things that best characterize the Deacons. Shanley is holding opposing offenses to 44 points per game and if that trend continues count on the Deacons to be in very good shape to contend for a second-straight championship.

Offensively, Shanley is led by the combo of juniors Sarah Jacobson and Lauren Rotunda. Jacobson – a two-time all-state player who is averaging 19.3 ppg through three games – can create on the perimeter and is a serious threat to drive to the basket. Rotunda – who is averaging 14.6 ppg – had a breakout season a year ago and has emerged as a top scoring threat in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

Alivia Fraase, Ellen Erie and Emily Dietz also have recorded double-digit scoring games for the Deacons this year.

Shanley is next in action Friday with a 7:30 p.m. game Friday against Grand Forks Central at McCormick Gymnasium.

After the holiday break, Shanley travels to Bismarck for a game against Class B, No. 1-ranked Minot Ryan. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the University of Mary. I’ll blog more about that game next week.

Offense hasn’t been in short supply early on for Fargo Davies. The Eagles are averaging 80 ppg through three games this season and have climbed to a No. 2 ranking in the latest Class A poll that was released Wednesday, Dec. 17.

The Eagles are led by 6-foot-2, all-state forward Lexi Klabo, who is averaging 29.3 ppg through three games.

Klabo tied her career-best and school record in points scored the first game of the season pouring in 34 points against Wahpeton on Dec. 11. Klabo scored 34 points against West Fargo February 27, 2014. The University of North Dakota commit followed up that performance with 28 points against Valley City (Dec. 13) and 26 against West Fargo Sheyenne (Dec. 16).

Senior forward Shelby Malmanger, sophomore forward Kylee Bergantine and junior forward Kai Erickson each have had games where they were No. 2 in scoring for the Eagles which suggests there are several sources of offense on Davies’ roster.

Davies hosts West Fargo at 5:45 p.m. Friday.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM.

 

 

Top 5 area Minnesota girls and boys basketball rankings (Dec. 17)

The No. 5 spot on these rankings for girls and boys has become quite poisonous, so beware.

On the boys side, Battle Lake has a strong hold on the No. 1 spot, while Detroit Lakes and Moorhead will swap between No. 2 and No. 3 probably all season. On the girls side, Hawley and Ada-Borup are seemingly locked in at No. 1 and No. 2

Here are your area basketball rankings after a few weeks of basketball.

 

BOYS

1. Battle Lake (6-0)

Last week: win at home over Parkers Prairie 75-35; win at Brandon-Evansville 66-34

Next up: host Perham, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; host Frazee, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Battle Lake had its closest game of the season against Brandon-Evansville. The Battlers won by 32.

The Battlers are yet to give up 40 points this season and are seemingly unstoppable right now.

 

2. Moorhead  (8-1)

Last week: win at home over Bemidji 77-35; win at home over Osseo 86-71

Next up: host Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Matt Bye has been one of the leaders of the Moorhead boys basketball team that is currently 8-1. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

Moorhead and Detroit Lakes seemingly are going to dance between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots all season. The reasoning for Moorhead being ahead of DL is the the St. Michael-Albertville loss on the road for the Spuds is a little more forgivable than DL’s loss.

That being said, what doesn’t bode well for the Spuds is the fact St. Michael-Albertville is unavoidable in 8AAAA, whereas DL did not lose to a section opponent.

Spuds have a different guy each night seemingly step up. They have a solid starting five playing a lot of minutes right now.

In the first QRF rankings, Spuds are No. 10 in Class 4A, which is the highest ranking of any area boys basketball team.

 

3. Detroit Lakes (6-1)

Last week: win win at Pequot Lakes 60-43; loss at Minneapolis Washburn 65-53; win at home against Thief River Falls 78-58

Next up: at Alexandria, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; at Bemidji, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Another Detroit Lakes win and another big game for Ryan Cihak. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Big win over Thief River Falls for Detroit Lakes in the team’s section opener. Not much time for celebration because the Lakers have the other big section game against Alexandria on Saturday.

Lakers win that one and 8AAA will belong to them for the time being. Ryan Cihak continues to impress for the Lakers, as he dropped 25 against Thief River Falls.

Lakers took their first loss of the season, but it was to a 6AAA team, so that doesn’t hurt their chances of getting to state.

 

4. Hawley (5-2)

Last week: win at home over Fargo Oak Grove (N.D.) 82-55; winat Frazee 69-52

Next up: host Barnesville, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Thief River Falls, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Give Ben Ellefson (left) the ball down low and good things will happen. Hawley has won five straight. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

Ben Ellefson had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Oak Grove and had 28 points against Frazee.

He’s headed to North Dakota State to play tight end next season, but he’s a load to handle in the paint as well.

Nuggets are 3-0 in section and have a big game against section rival Barnesville on Friday.

 

5. Park Christian (5-1)

Last week: win at Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal 62-52; win at Bagley 69-47

Next up: host Mahnomen, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; at Fargo Oak Grove (N.D.), Saturday, 4 p.m.; host Rothsay, Monday, 8 p.m.

Time to stop ignoring the Falcons. Not sure how they’re doing this with a first-year coach in Josh Lee and after losing four starters, but here we are.

Park Christian is 5-1 overall with their only loss coming to a team a class above them and they are 3-0 in 6A North.

Zach Kvalvog (the only name I still need to triple check after years of spelling) has been incredible. The junior point guard is averaging 19.5 points a game and has been the leading scorer in every game for the Falcons but one.

A rematch against Battle Lake for the 6A title would be very interesting. Scary thing is Park Christian has just three seniors this season.

 

GIRLS

1. Hawley (5-0)

Last week: win at Wadena-Deer Creek 68-42; win at Barnesville 67-45

Next up: host Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; at Thief River Falls, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

The Nuggets are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in their section. Their closest game was a nine-point win over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in which D-G-F closed the gap when back-ups were put in for the final 80 seconds of the game.

Guard Olivia Olson and center Mira Ellefson are simply impossible to stop. TRF is an interesting matchup for the Nuggets, but the Prowlers are also a class above the Nuggets, so a loss wouldn’t mean much for Hawley.

A win, however, would be extremely impressive.

 

2. Ada-Borup (5-0)

Last week: win at home over Red Lake County Central 85-21; win at Fosston 72-33

Next up: host Bagley, Friday, 6 p.m.; at Pelican Rapids, Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Speaking of destroying teams, here’s Ada-Borup. The Cougars’ closest win this season was by 16 points.

Hard to find a loss on Ada-Borup’s schedule until Feb. 17 when the Cougars play Hawley at Hawley.

 

3. Verndale (4-0)

Last week: win at home over Bertha-Hewitt 52-34; win at Swanville over Royalton 48-37

Next up: at Henning, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Verndale keeps rolling behind Sarah Moenkedick and Jordyn Glenz. The Pirates are 4-0 and 3-0 in 5A North.

 

4. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (6-1)

Last week: win at Hancock 61-43; win at Lidgerwood tournament over Hankinson (N.D.) 29-25; loss at Lidgerwood tournament to Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah 60-43

Next up: vs. Wyndmere-Lidgerwood (N.D.) at Lidgerwood Tournament,Thursday, 7 p.m.; at Battle Lake, Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Warriors haven’t lost to a team from Minnesota yet and are 2-0 in section play.

 

5. Detroit Lakes (3-1)

Last week: win at home over Fergus Falls 72-48; loss at home against Thief River Falls 71-65

Next up: host Park Rapids, Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Thief River Falls will be standing in the way of DL getting a section title until the Lakers prove otherwise. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Still not ready to give up on Detroit Lakes just yet. The Lakers suffered a tough loss to TRF in what could be a section title game preview.

The Lakers started the game on an 11-0 run, but TRF answered. It was 68-65 TRF late and the Prowlers iced it from the free-throw line.

TRF is a team Detroit Lakes has to get over if they want a section title. The Lakers have lost six of the last seven against the Prowlers.

Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or cmurphy@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general.

Top 5 area Minnesota girls and boys basketball rankings (Dec. 10)

With Wheaton-Herman-Norcross losing to Park Christian and getting rolled by Battle Lake, there’s a bit of a shakeup in the boys top five. Moorhead added to the girls top five.

Here’s your top area Minnesota girls and boys basketball teams for the week of Dec. 10.

 

BOYS

1. Battle Lake (4-0)

Last week: win at Rothsay 86-28; win at Wheaton-Herman Norcross 63-23

Next up: host Parkers Prairie, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Brandon-Evansville, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Safe to say Battle Lake has a strong hold on Section 6A. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross may have been who they faced in the section title game.

The Battlers would be more than happy with that after a 40-point dismantling of the Warriors. Pick your poison on who to guard in Andrew VanErp, Petric VanErp, Tony Ukkelberg and Nick Trosdahl.

It most likely won’t work out well.

 

2. Detroit Lakes

Last week: win at home over Crosby-Iron 60-50; win at home over Wadena-Deer Creek 96-22

Next up: at Pequot Lakes, Friday, 7:15 p.m.; at Minneapolis Washburn, Saturday, 3 p.m.; host Thief River Falls, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Lakers look strong in the early part of the season. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Still no road games or section games for Detroit Lakes, but the Lakers are cruising, recently winning by 74. The Lakers will get a taste of section when they face off against Thief River Falls, which could be a preview of the section title game.

Christian Hedstrom has led DL in scoring in all four wins.

 

3. Moorhead (6-1)

Last week: won at home over Rogers 66-50; lost at St. Michael-Albertville 70-59

Next up: host Bemidji, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Osseo, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Spuds suffered their first loss of the season. Time to see how they respond. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

For the first time this season, the Spuds lost. Unfortunately for Moorhead it comes against a section opponent in St. Michael-Albertville.

Could be a preview for the 8AAAA championship game.

 

4. Hawley (3-2)

Last week: win at Ada-Borup 84-51; win at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 68-43

Next up: host Oak Grove (N.D.), Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Frazee, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Hawley has won three straight since losing by a combined six points to Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls, both of which play in the class above the Nuggets.

More importantly, they are 2-0 in 8AA with double-digit wins at Breckenridge and at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

 

5. Hillcrest Lutheran Academy (4-0)

Last week: win at home over Ashby 92-29; win at Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 74-23

Next up: at Rothsay, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Parkers Prairie, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

The Comets have won four section games to start the season by 47, 24, 63 and 41 points. Jake Issac has led the way with more than 22 points per game.

 

GIRLS

1. Hawley (3-0)

Last week: win at home over Breckenridge 58-41; win at home over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 69-60

Next up: at Wadena-Deer Creek, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.; at Barnesville, Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Hawley’s Mira Ellefson may be hurting in this picture, but she’s hurting defenses in the early part of the season. Photo by David Samson/Forum

Hawley is tough to guard.

Olivia Olson had 22 points against D-G-F and did it driving to the hole and shooting from the outside. Mira Ellefson can get to the rim at will and while defenses are attempting to guard those two, Jody Noreen can drive, Brittany Laddusaw can hit a 3-pointer and ignore Karyssa Hovelson down low and she’ll make you pay.

With Hovelson cleaning up the boards – she had 14 against D-G-F – that leaves Ellefson free to work the post.

Not much the Nuggets can’t do.

 

2. Ada-Borup (3-0)

Last week: win at Hillsboro-Central Valley (N.D.) 60-31; win at Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal 75-59

Next up: host Red Lake County Central, Monday, 7:30 p.m.; at Fosston, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Ada-Borup won its first section game by 16 against NCE-U-H behind 26 points from Lexi Merkens, 12 points from Morgan Miller and 13 points from Haley Poehler.

The well-oiled machine that is the Cougars basketball team continues. They have not lost back-to-back games since March 17-18 of 2006 at the Class 1A state tournament. They’ve played 245 games since.

 

3. Verndale (2-0)

Last week: win at Pillager 60-42; win at home over Menahga 68-45

Next up: host Bertha-Hewitt, Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Royalton Tournament, Monday, 6 p.m.

The Pirates set a program record for wins with 25 last season and have seven of nine varsity players back, including four of five starters.

Pirates are experienced and still somewhat young.

 

4. Detroit Lakes (2-0)

Last week: win at Alexandria 56-49; win at Wadena-Deer Creek 58-18

Next up: host Fergus Falls, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; host Thief River Falls, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Shay Nielsen (ball) is going to be tough to guard all season for opponents. Photo by Eric Morken/Echo Press

Detroit Lakes isn’t messing around in the early part of its schedule. The Lakers have already beaten section rivals Alexandria and will take on 4-0 Thief River Falls on Tuesday in what could be a preview of the section championship.

DL had three in double digits in scoring behind 12 each from Hailey Jorgenson and Grace Swenson and 11 from Shay Nielsen in the opener against Alexandria.

 

5. Moorhead (4-0)

Last week: win at home over Fergus Falls 63-59; win at Fargo South (N.D.) 63-55; win at home against Brainerd 65-58

Next up: at St. Michael-Albertville, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.; host Buffalo, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Spuds were supposed to be a couple years away, but they’re 4-0 and freshman Sam Haiby looks like the real deal. She’s scored 27, 32, 18 and 30 in the Spuds four wins.

Big test coming against St. Michael-Albertville. If Moorhead keeps it close, they could be closer to competing than expected.

Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or cmurphy@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general. 

Catching up with history: Minot Ryan girls basketball team claims state’s consecutive wins record

MINOT – History was made Friday night at the Minot Auditorium.

The Minot Ryan girls basketball team defeated Thompson 63-35 in its season opener and in doing so broke the North Dakota Class B and overall state record for consecutive victories.

Entering the game, Ryan’s consecutive winning streak sat at 57 games – a mark that had the Lions tied with Larimore (57 victories from 2002-2004) and Williston (57 victories in the late 70s) according to the annual North Dakota Hoopster publication.

Ryan’s streak dates back to the 2011-2012 season when it finished fifth place at the Class B tournament.

The Lions last loss – a 46-45 setback against Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock – came in the quarterfinals of the 2012 state tournament.

The Lions current streak began March 16, 2012 with a win in the state consolation semifinals held at the Bismarck Civic Center.

The current streak includes two Class B state titles in 2013 and 2014 – both tournaments were played at the Fargodome and in each championship game Minot Ryan trailed its opponent, but rebounded to keep the streak alive.

Members of the Minot Ryan girls basketball team celebrate winning the 2014 state championship last march at the Fargodome. Forum file photo

In Friday’s win against the Tommies, senior all-state post Gabbie Bohl led all scorers with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

Ryan senior all-state forward Hannah Stewart – a University of Iowa commit – scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds and seven blocks for the Lions.

Senior all-state forward Hannah Stewart has helped the Minot Ryan girls basketball team to a 58-game winning streak, which dates back to 2012. Forum file photo

Ryan will try for No. 59 at 6:15 p.m. tonight against New Town at the Minot Auditorium.

After the Shootout on the Prairie wraps up tonight the Lions will start a string of three road games that concludes with a game against Bismarck Shiloh Christian on Dec. 20. Ryan defeated Shiloh Christian in the Class B championship last March.

If Ryan’s streak survives that stretch of games the next challenge may very well end up being its match up with defending Class A champions Fargo Shanley on December 27 at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Ryan is favored to win the Region 6 championship and likely will begin the year ranked No. 1 in the Class B poll.

Top 5 area Minnesota girls and boys basketball rankings (Dec. 3)

With some boys basketball games in the books and girls basketball games beginning, the season is fully underway. Here’s a look at the top five Minnesota girls and boys basketball teams in the area in the early going.

 

BOYS

1. Battle Lake (2-0)

Last week: won at Hancock 82-33; won at Ashby 100-39

Next up: at Rothsay, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Wheaton-Herman-Norcross, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Battle Lake had four guys in double digits in scoring in their opening win of the season with Tony Ukkelberg with 26, Andrew VanErp with 16, Petric VanErp with 14 and Nick Trosdahl with 10.

Those four will lead Battle Lake all season. They are incredibly athletic and can jump out of the building. In their second win of the season, Petric VanErp dropped 27, Ukkelberg had 20 and Trosdahl had 18.

Wheaton-Herman-Norcross will be a good test to see just how big of a hold the Battlers have on Section 6A.

 

2. Moorhead (5-0)

Last week: won at Brainerd 62-54; won at home over Alexandria 69-47; won at Buffalo 74-53; won at Anoka-Ramsey over Elk River 62-60; won at Fergus Falls 84-59

Next up: host Rogers, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at St. Michael-Albertville, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.

Matt Bye (left) and Nick Wiesmann (ball) have helped the Spuds to a 5-0 start. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

It’s been an exciting time to be a Spud to open this basketball season. Moorhead opened with a come-from-behind win over Brainerd, rolled Alexandria, Buffalo and Fergus Falls and used a buzzer beater to beat Elk River.

The scoring has come from all over the place between Shane Steckler , who had seven 3-pointers in the first half and tied the school record with eight against Buffalo, Matt Bye, who hit the buzzer beater against Elk River and Cody Dorow, who has scored 29, 26, 23, 16 and 22 for the Spuds.

A huge addition in the starting lineup has been Leif Engen, who is turning into a double-double machine, down low next to big man Nick Wiesmann.

Last season, it took the Spuds 12 games to get five wins and they finished 4-3 in Section 8AAAA. Spuds are 5-0 and 3-0 in section.

 

3. Detroit Lakes (2-0)

Last week: won at home over Hawley 84-83; won at home over Staples-Motley 93-57

Next up: host Crosby-Ironton, Friday, 7:15 p.m.; host Wadena-Deer Creek, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.

DL’s Ryan Cihak (31) was the hero in the Lakers 84-83 win over Hawley to open the season. He hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

DL won the opener against Hawley that featured 20 seniors. The Lakers trailed 72-55 wtih 7:48 to go, but came back and won.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that was to 2A Hawley, which is a class below 3A DL. Hawley has a lot of weapons, but they also lost to DL’s 8AAA rival Fergus Falls 82-77.

DL has weapons of its own. Christian Hedstrom had 23, Ryan Cihak had 18, Corbin Duncan had 15 and Sam Champa had 10 against Hawley. Lakers have size, seen in the fact they held 6-foot-4, 220-pound North Dakota State tight end commit Ben Ellefson to just 13 points.

Hedstrom had 18, Ben Hokanson had 18 and Cihak had 10 in the Game 2 win for the Lakers.

 

4. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (2-0)

Last week: won at home over Ashby 66-55; won at Rothsay 58-44

Next up: host Park Christian, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Battle Lake, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

W-H-N lost four of its 26 games last season, two of which came to Battle Lake in terrible fashion 71-32 and 74-45.

That will be the problem for the Warriors. Can Carson Maudal, Jacob Pederson, Bailey Anderson and company compete with Battle Lake? Will find that out Tuesday.

 

5. Hawley (1-2)

Last week: lost 84-83 at Detroit Lakes; lost at home against Fergus Falls 82-77; won at Breckenridge 68-57

Next up: at Ada-Borup, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Hawley suffered two tough losses against Class 3A teams to start the season, but came back to beat section rival Breckenridge. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Not quite ready to give up on Hawley just yet. There’s a good chance this No. 5 spot switches between Barnesville, W-H-N, Hawley, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Fergus Falls and maybe even Breckenridge.

The benefit of the doubt right now is going to Hawley. The Nuggets blew a 17-point lead in the second half to Detroit Lakes in the opener. The Nuggets had a 14-point deficit they closed to two in the second half against Fergus Falls, but could get no closer. Those losses are frustrating, but forgivable, considering both teams play in the class above Hawley.

The Nuggets got first-year coach Nathan Stoa his first win over Breckenridge in a game in which they trailed by 17 thanks to a career-high 29 points from Aaron Regnier.

Nuggets got 31 points from Ben Ellefson in the loss to Fergus Falls and 25 points from Dillon Omberg in the loss against Detroit Lakes. They certainly got weapons.

 

GIRLS

1. Hawley (1-0)

Last week: win at home over Lake Park-Audubon 59-14

Next up: host Breckenridge, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Karyssa Hovelson (center) gives Hawley size alongside Mira Ellefson. Photo by Michael Vosburg/Forum

Mira Ellefson and Olivia Olson nearly outscored the entire Lake Park-Audubon team with 13 points each in the season opener for the Nuggets. Nuggets outrebounded LP-A 30-17 and forced 36 turnovers.

There’s a whole lot of seniors on this Nuggets team. They got size, they can shoot, they can create their own shot and all coach Bill Gottenborg’s teams know defense.

Don’t see Hawley losing the No. 1 spot anytime soon.

 

2. Ada-Borup (1-0)

Last week: win at home over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 64-44

Next up: at Hillsboro-Central Valley, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; at Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Haley Poehler (ball) had eight points in Ada-Borup’s season opener. Photo by Michael Vosburg/Forum

If Hawley were to trip up, Ada-Borup will be waiting to move into that No. 1 spot.

As they normally do, Ada-Borup’s scoring came from all over the place in their season opener. Lexi Nelson had 15 points, Lexi Merkens had 13 points, Miki Lee had 12 points and Morgan Miller and Haley Poehler each had eight points.

This is what the Cougars do. They get up big, give younger players playing time and the train rolls on. That was a Class 2A D-G-F team that Class 1A Ada-Borup just rolled by 20.

 

3. Pelican Rapids

Last week: no games

Next up: Tip-off Class, Saturday, at Hokpins vs. Dover-Eyota, 6 p.m.; at Perham, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Mackenzie Korf (ball) will make her return this season after tearing her ACL in February. Photo by Chris Murphy/Forum

No games yet for Pelican Rapids. The Vikings wait for Mackenzie Korf’s first game since tearing her ACL on Feb. 22.

 

4. Verndale

Last week: no games

Next up: at Pillager, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; host Menahga, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

No games yet for Verndale, as the Pirates return senior Elyssa Kern, juniors Jordyn Glenz, Sarah Moenkedick and Keila Schmitz, along with sophomore Shania Glenz.

They were young last season and went 25-4. This season, the Pirates are experienced and are built for an even bigger push in two years.

 

5. Detroit Lakes

Last week: no games

Next up: at Alexandria, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; at Wadena-Deer Creek, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.

DL has plenty of returning weapons in search of their first section title since 2009. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newpspapers

New York Mills drops out of the top five after a big loss to Perham. Could be a lot of rotating at the No. 5 spot in the girls’ rankings, but DL could provide some stability.

The Lakers have three returning starters, including Shay Nielsen, who averaged 17 points and nine rebounds last season. She’s headed to the University of Minnesota for shot put next season, so there’s plenty of strength in the middle. She also had 470 points last season to set the school record for points in a season.

When defenses collapse on Nielsen, the Lakers have seniors Kyley Foster and Hailey Jorgenson and junior Kyra Vagle for her to dish the ball to for jumpers.

DL has their returning points leader in Nielsen, assist/steals leader in Foster and 3-point specialist in Jorgenson, who hit 33.9 percent of her 3-pointers, back from a team that won 20 games.

 

 

Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or cmurphy@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general.

Fargo Davies and Fargo Shanley to meet in Class A volleyball semifinals

MINOT – Tonight at 6 p.m. Fargo Shanley and Fargo Davies will square off in the North Dakota Class A state volleyball semifinals at the Minot State Dome.

The All-Fargo semifinal should be an interesting match and this post will go a little deeper into the two team’s all-time history when meeting on the volleyball court.

Several city blocks separate Davies and Shanley and the schools each have established a tradition for their respective volleyball programs the last several seasons.

Here is a quick look at each team heading into the match:

FARGO DAVIES
Record: 25-9
How it got here: Defeated West Fargo in a state-qualifying match at the East Region Tournament; Defeated Jamestown 3-0 in the state quarterfinals.
Key players: Carla Binde, Jr., OH; Arlana Prost, Sr., OH; Jaiden Langlie Jr., S; McKenna Mikkelsen, Soph., Libero.

FARGO SHANLEY
Record: 35-1
How it got here: Defeated Grand Forks Red River 3-0 in East Region Tournament championship; defeated Mandan 3-0 in state quarterfinals.
Key players: Alivia Fraase, Sr., MB; Lauren Sandy, Sr., S; Somer Bucholz, Sr., MB; Kylie Kanwischer, Soph., MB

The Deacons have dominated the all-time series. Davies has never defeated Shanley in its five years as a varsity program.

Shanley holds a 14-0 all-time series lead against the Eagles, however, Davies has come close several times including a Sept. 18th meeting with the Deacons that Davies lost 3-2. The Eagles were up 2-1 in that match, which was held at McCormick Gymnasium.

Below is a look at the all-time series year-by-year

2014: 3-2, 2-0, 3-1
2013: 3-2, 3-1, 3-1 (East Region title match)
2012: 3-1, 2-1, 3-0, 3-0 (State consolation semifinals)
2011: 3-2, 3-2
2010: 3-2, 3-0

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM.

 

Top 5 area Minnesota girls and boys basketball preseason rankings

The season begins with Battle Lake at the top of the area boys basketball rankings in Minnesota and Hawley at the top of the girls rankings.

Here’s why:

 

BOYS

1. Battle Lake

Last season: 27-1, lost in Class 1A, Section 6 championship to Park Christian 62-59

This was the scene Battle Lake had to watch in the section championship as Park Christian celebrated going to state. Photo by David Samson/Forum

That one on the end of the record is going to sting Battle Lake for awhile. The Battlers were ranked No. 2 in Class 1A and the only undefeated team in Minnesota when Park Christian beat them by three in the section title game.

Worst part about it was Battle Lake was without starting senior shooting guard Daniel Marso and his replacement missed two free throws with 59.4 seconds to go that would have tied the game.

The Battlers lose Tyler Ukkelberg and Marso to graduation, but return three starters. Petric VanErp, Tony Ukkelberg, Andrew VanErp and Nick Trosdahl should lead the way. Battlers also have Micah Rogness for more size down low if Trosdahl isn’t enough.

 

2. Hawley

Last season: 15-11, lost in Class 2A, Section 8 subsection semifinals to Perham 66-55

Ben Ellefson was a double-double machine last season for Hawley. He returns for his senior year. Photo by Darren Gibbins/Forum

Last season was a nightmare season for Hawley. Came in highly ranked, started 4-8, had some starters quit in the middle of the season and finished 15-11.

Hawley has a new coach, size and seniors. There was just two seniors on the team last season, but eight juniors.

Ben Ellefson averaged 24.1 points and 11 rebounds last season for the Nuggets. He returns, along with seniors Jordan Harms, Dawson Tusow, Aaron Regnier, Ben Steichen and Dillon Omberg.

Expectations have been all over this senior group for football and basketball since they were sophomores. This is their last season.

 

3. Moorhead

Last season: 12-12, lost in Class 4A, Section 8 first round to St. MIchael-Albertville 75-60

Cody Dorow fell one point short of the Moorhead school record for points in a season as a junior. He returns with a lot of colleges looking at him. Photo by Darren Gibbins/Forum

Moorhead was full of juniors last season and return 70 percent of their scoring from last season.

Much of that comes from shooting guard Cody Dorow, who fell one point short of the school record for points in a season. Aaron Lien’s record was 689 points in 26 games. Dorow had 688 in 24 games. The knock on Dorow is his defense, so he decided to play football for the first time ever this season. One would imagine that toughened him up, seeing as colleges were looking at him for football after three games at wide receiver.

Around Dorow will be guard Shane Steckler, forward Matt Bye and big man Nick Weismann, all of whom saw a lot of playing time last season. This is a very experienced Spuds team with two players (Dorow, Weismann) getting a lot of attention from colleges.

 

4. Detroit Lakes

Last season: 18-9, lost in Class 3A, Section 8 first round to Fergus Falls 47-43 in overtime

Ben Hokanson gives Detroit Lakes a lot of size down low. Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Season ended on a terrible note for Detroit Lakes, losing in overtime in a game the Lakers led 30-22 at halftime. Good thing there was a lot of juniors on that team to come back a season later with that memory.

As a sophomore, Ryan Cihak had 285 points. He was the leading DL scorer as a junior. He’s now a senior, as is Sam Champa, Corbin Duncan, Christian Hedstrom and Connor Johnson, all of whom saw playing time last season. In fact, 12 of the 15 players on DL’s roster are seniors.

As for size, there’s 6-foot-5, 290-pound Briton Thompson, 6-foot-5, 200-pound Trey Lyngaas and 6-foot-7 Ben Hokanson.

 

5. Breckenridge

Last season: 12-14,lost in Class 2A, Section 8 first round to Hawley 73-61

The Cowboys started last season 3-11. They closed the season winning nine of 12.

Forward Nate Lorenz surpassed 1,000 career points in the season finale and is 158 away from the school record. He’s already the school’s all-time leader in rebounds, averaging about 12 rebounds a game. He’s committed to the University of Minnesota-Crookston to play basketball.

With Lorenz and Nate Blaufuss, the Cowboys have their senior leaders. Junior guard Ashton Hegge came on strong at the end of last season, so he could be the X-factor for the Cowboys.

Season starts tough at Fergus Falls, Perham and Wahpeton and hosting Hawley and Barnesville.

 

GIRLS

1. Hawley

Last season: 21-7, lost in the Class 2A, Section 8 championship to Pequot Lakes 81-64

Jody Noreen returns for her senior year at point guard for Hawley. Photo by David Samson/Forum

Hawley was one game away from the state tournament and the Nuggets had one senior.

The Nuggets return everyone, including senior point guard Jody Noreen and senior shooting guard Olivia Olson. Junior Mira Ellefson is 5-foot-10 and can be seen in the post or bringing up the ball. The Nuggets also have 6-foot senior Karyssa Hovelson.

This could be a huge season for Hawley.

 

2. Ada-Borup

Last season: 28-2, lost in the Class 1A quarterfinals to Goodhue 65-58

Miki Lee (left) returns to help Ada-Borup revamp their starting lineup. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

Ada-Borup has won seven section titles in the last nine seasons. The Cougars lose their ball handlers in Monica Vega and Shaina Stevenson and post Haley Gehrtz, but return starting forward Haley Poehler.

The Cougars destroyed teams last season, so everyone got playing time, meaning seniors Lexi Merkens and Miki Lee and junior Morgan Miller are ready to take over starting roles.

 

3. Pelican Rapids

Last season: 19-7, lost in the Class 2A, Section 8 first round to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 75-71 in overtime

Pelican Rapids was never the same after guard Mackenzie Korf tore her ACL. She’s back for this season. Photo by Darren Gibbins/Forum

Pelican Rapids was ranked No. 9 in Class 2A and 18-2 before they lost sophomore guard Mackenzie Korf to a torn ACL. She was averaging nearly 25 points a game for the Vikings.

From there, the Vikings went 1-5 and were out in their first playoff game. Good news is Pelican Rapids had just three seniors on last season’s team and have a lot of talented post players back, mainly in senior Lincoln Haiby and junior Grace Forsgren.

 

4. New York Mills

Last season: 19-6, lost in the Class 1A, Section 6 subsection semifinals to Lake Park-Audubon 61-47

Lydia Rutten (left) and her sister Ellie will lead New York Mills this season. Photo by David Samson/Forum

New York Mills has sisters Ellie Rutten and Lydia Rutten. Ellie is a 6-foot-1 senior and Lydia is a 6-foot sophomore.

They are a tough combo to stop. Opponents are happy, after this season, half of the duo will be gone.

 

5. Verndale

Last season: 25-4, lost in the Class 1A, Section 5 subsection championship to Browerville 79-54

Verndale had just two seniors on last season’s team. The Pirates return senior Elyssa Kern, juniors Jordyn Glenz, Sarah Moenkedick and Keila Schmitz, along with sophomore Shania Glenz.

They were young last season and still went 25-4. This season, the Pirates are built to be scary and should be even scarier in two years.

Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or cmurphy@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general.

NDSU commit Ben Ellefson gets offer from Purdue

Ben Ellefson picked up an offer from Purdue on Friday. Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum

Hawley senior Ben Ellefson picked up an offer Friday from Purdue. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end and linebacker for Hawley gave a verbal commitment to North Dakota State on July 11 and said that commitment hasn’t changed.

“It doesn’t change my commitment right now,” Ellefson said.

Ellefson had offers from Air Force, Fordham, New Mexico, Wyoming and South Dakota State before committing to NDSU.

Purdue is the first offer he’s received after verballing to NDSU.

 

THE NUMBERS

Ben Ellefson finished with over 1,000 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons at Hawley Photo by Mike Vosburg/Forum

Here are the stats for Ellefson in his junior and senior seasons at Hawley.

Games: 23

Passing: 4-for-9 for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception

Rushing: 75 rushes, 467 yards, 11 touchdowns

Receiving: 60 catches, 1,122 yards, 15 touchdowns

Defense: 141.5 tackles, five interceptions, 4.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss


Chris Murphy can be reached at 701-241-5548 or cmurphy@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeeMurphsTweets for Minnesota prep updates and smart alecky remarks about sports, movies, music and life in general.

 

Davies’ Thielges says Minot game last season was tipping point for Eagles

FARGO – There is no better source to determine when exactly the Fargo Davies football program turned a corner from a team that experienced three losing seasons prior to its first year above .500 in 2013 than the team’s head coach Jason Thielges.

The answer might surprise some people.

There have been many milestones since the team’s 0-9 season in 2010, but Thielges pointed to one game as the moment he and his staff thought things were about to change. The game was Davies’ 34-27 overtime loss to Minot on Sept. 6, 2013.

Davies plays Minot in the North Dakota Class 3A state championship game at 6:40 p.m. Friday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

The loss against the Magicians put Davies at 0-2 to start its 2013 season. There were two directions to go after that.

“The Minot game last year was a big tipping point,” Thielges said. “We felt we should have won that game, but we ended up losing it in overtime and the kids were devastated. I think teams we had prior to that season would have been content with saying, ‘Wow we played with Minot.’ They were not content with that. They were mad and they were upset. You knew something was different then.”

Davies ended the 2013 season 6-4 and won a share of the Eastern Dakota Conference championship. A playoff loss to Bismarck Century left some things on the table however.

2014 has been Davies best in program history. The team is 10-1 entering the Dakota Bowl and one of those 10 victories came against Minot – a 25-13 victory on Sept. 5.

“Early on this season we were a confident team,” Thielges said. “We overcame some mental hurdles. When you are not a good team if a couple things go bad at the beginning of a game it is really easy to quit or panic. There wasn’t any of that with our team anymore. When we played Bismarck Century the kids were confident we could get it done. Going to Minot, they were confident they could get it done. There really hasn’t been a game this year where they didn’t feel confident they could get it done.”

In the Alerus Center all things will be equal in regards to playing conditions, which should favor both teams when it comes to offense.

Davies’ passing attack hasn’t been able to take off due to weather conditions this postseason.

No two players might be happier to play under a dome on Friday than Aidan and Tristan Hartness.

The twin brothers connected for three touchdowns through the air against Minot earlier this season with Aidan Hartness passing for 181 yards in the game. Tristan Hartness hauled in touchdowns of 7, 47 and 66 yards in the game.

“I’m more than happy that we are playing in the Alerus Center,” Tristan Hartness said. “The passing game is going to be open just like it was the entire regular season and that definitely worked out well for us.”

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM.

PREP BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Shanley and Davies football teams share common thread

FARGO – Friday two high school football teams from Fargo – Fargo Davies and Fargo Shanley – will be playing in a state football championship at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Shanley plays Bismarck St. Mary’s in the Class 2A state title game set to begin at 3 p.m. and Davies plays Minot in the 3A title at 6:40 p.m.

The schools’ football fields are only separated by several city blocks on 25th Street in south Fargo, but there is another common thread that both programs share.

Several star players from each team at one time played on the same F-M athletics football team in sixth grade.

Aidan and Tristan Hartness, who both star on Davies’ 10-1 football team were once teammates of Shanley standouts Danny Stasch, Tre Fort, Alex Conner, Alex Berg, Nick Kjera, Kyle Bailey and Donny Steinhouse. All are now seniors in high school. Shanley is also 10-1 heading into the Dakota Bowl.

A team photo of the 2008 Deacons sixth grade F-M athletics football team. Submitted photo from Brad Conner

The sixth grade F-M athletics football team those players played on went 8-0 in the fall of 2008. The team’s nickname was the Deacons and the talented squad wore orange jerseys with black and white trim.

Six years later those players will be playing games that will be broadcast on television via WDAY-TV statewide.

“We were a great team,” Conner said. “We crushed every team we played. We knew if we all stuck together by the time we hit high school we would be something special. The fact that Aidan and Tristan went to Davies and still carried out their dreams of hopefully winning a state championship one day is pretty cool too.”

Aidan Hartness, Davies’ quarterback who has thrown for 1,772 yards and 21 touchdowns this fall, recalls the days playing F-M athletics well.

“I had great years playing football with all those guys,” Aidan Hartness said. “They are great athletes they definitely have put in a ton of work too. I am so proud of those guys. To see what they have done and what I have done is a great feeling. It is great to know my good friends from a couple years back are doing the same things I am doing. I know I’ll see them at the Alerus Center this week.”

Aidan and Tristan Hartness were in attendance Saturday when Shanley defeated Beulah 36-6 at Sid Cichy Stadium.

“It was nice to see another team from Fargo make it to the Dakota Bowl,” Tristan Hartness said. “Growing up and playing football with those guys I always knew we were a great team with great players because we always participated well in F-M athletics. I knew their team (Shanley) was going to be special.”

The 8-0 season was highlighted by a lot of offense.

“One game I remember pretty well was when we played a team and the final score was 76-0,” Conner said. “That’s always one thing I look back on when some of us talk about that 2008 season.”

After the 2008 Deacons wrapped up its season, a pizza party was organized for the team at Happy Joes.

A couple of the parents made up a team banner, which all the players autographed. The banner read:

DEACONS
2008: 8-0
2014: ND state champions

The 2014 projection could end up being right on the money in more ways than one.

The team banner has resurfaced and has provided all the players a little nostalgia prior to the big games on Friday in Grand Forks.

A photo of the team banner that celebrated the perfect 8-0 season turned in by the 2008 Deacons sixth grade F-M Athletics football team. Submitted photo by Brad Conner.

Below is the team roster.

THE 2008 DEACONS
#             Name
4              Austin Scott
5              Mack Christianson
10           Alex Conner
12           Sam Fisher
20           Tre Fort
22           Joshua Joacheim
26           Luke Payne
33           Alex Berg
39           Kyle Bailey
40           Danny Stasch
44           Tanner Braun
48           Riley Fisher
49           Leo Hedl
50           Kevin Wolfe
52           Aidan Hartness
55           Tristan Hartness
60           Ben Herrington
64           Gregory Beauclair
66           Nick Kjera
68           Donny Steinhouse
85           Jack Christlieb
88           Wyatt Leier

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM.