PREP NOTEBOOK: North Dakota Girls Basketball Heating Up

As the calendar nears February, the North Dakota girls basketball season is rapidly closing in on the midway point in both Class A and Class B. … Thus far last season’s defending champions Bismarck Century (Class A) and Minot Bishop Ryan (Class B) have been ranked No. 1 in their respective polls all season. … That will likely change in Class A next week when the sixth Class A poll of the season is issued. … The No. 1 Patriots were bounced 72-64 by No. 3-ranked Bismarck. … Century’s loss means No. 2-ranked West Fargo is now the only undefeated team in Class A. … The Packers (9-0, 8-0 EDC) have a strong nucleus of senior returners in Cassidy Thorson, Kaitlyn Langerud and Shelby Gustafson. … When the season began, Barb Metcalf’s squad knew it would be without senior speedster Amanda Levin, who tore her ACL in the fall playing volleyball, however, other players have stepped up. … Freshman forward Akealy Moton has emerged as a consistent scorer and defender for West Fargo.

West Fargo’s Cassidy Thorson

The Packers have transitioned more to a half court team, but still like to play pressure at certain point in games. … With two regular-season wins over No. 4-ranked Fargo Shanley, the Packers are very much in the driver seat the rest of the season. Tonight, West Fargo puts its undefeated record on the line against Fargo Davies at WFHS.

In Class B, the Minot Ryan Lions are 10-0 and are in the midst of a 39-game winning streak, which dates back to the end of the 2011-12 season. … The Lions are favored to return to the state tournament and have already picked up some impressive wins this season including a season-opening victory against Thompson.

Minot Ryan’s Hannah Stewart

Central Cass, the team Minot Ryan defeated in the Class B title game last march, is 8-1 and sits atop the District 2 standings. … The Squirrels are ranked No. 5 in Class B and their lone loss was a 56-55 setback against No. 2-ranked Thompson. … Central Cass plays Maple Valley (9-1) tonight in Tower City, which could be a preview of the Region 1 girls basketball title game. … The Raiders are led by Sophomore Rylee Nudell, who is a scoring machine and is approaching 2,000 career points. … Not to be overlooked in the balance of power in Region 1 is District 1 front-runner Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah. … The Rebels are ranked No. 8 and are 8-0 thus far. Next Saturday (Feb. 1) F-C-T travels to Central Cass and on Feb. 3 the Rebels invade Fargo to play Oak Grove at Gorder Gymnasium.