Wolves punch their ticket to State
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City girls basketball team will be making its 14th trip to the State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament this week after the Wolves coasted to the Region 8 championship.
The Wolves, who entered the Region 8 Tournament as the state’s No. 3-ranked Class B girls basketball team, pretty much had their way against Ray and Trenton as Watford City easily defeated the Jays and Tigers, 81-27, and 68-35, respectively.
And on Saturday, the Wolves punched their ticket to the 2016 State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament with a dominating, 67-42, win over the New Town Eagles.
“The girls played very well in the three Region 8 Tournament games, and we handled the pressure well of being the favorite, stated John Zenz, Wolves’ head coach. “In all three games we were able to get off to great starts and our defense was able to force turnovers that we were able to turn into scoring opportunities.”
The Wolves, who have a 22-2 season record entering this year’s State Class B Tournament, are seeded the No. 2 team and will be taking on Dickinson Trinity at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
While the Titans were one of the two teams who defeated the Wolves this season, Zenz is looking forward to revenging that 43-23 loss.
“Dickinson Trinity is a team that we are familiar with,” states Zenz. “I believe we are a way more consistent ball club on both ends of the court than when we played them back in December.”
And Zenz says his girls are looking forward to making the trip to the “Big Dance.”
“The girls are excited about making a return trip to State,” states Zenz. “They know that if we are healthy and play like we are capable of, we have a shot to win some games against the top teams in the state.”
Region 8 Tournament First Round
Watford City 81, Ray 27
Watford City definitely let the rest of the Region 8 Tournament teams know that they were the team to beat as the Wolves crushed the Rays Jays, 81-27, in opening round tournament action.
The Wolves’ offense exploded for 20 first quarter points, while holding the Jays to just three points in the opening eight minutes of play.
Watford City held a commanding, 44-13, halftime lead and led the Jays by 44 points, 67-23, heading into the final eight minutes of play.
“We shot the ball very well against Ray as we made 62 percent of our shots from the field and 79 percent from the free-throw line,” stated Zenz.
Eleven of Watford City’s 12 players made the scoring column as Zenz was able to go to his bench frequently to give his reserves quality playing time.
Mackenzie Sparby paced both teams in scoring with 18 points, while ReiAnn Lindley and Ricki Lindley netted 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Rounding out the scoring for the Wolves was Lea Arndt with nine points, Katie Mogen with eight points, Kaytlyn Grimes with seven points, Avery Sundeen and Alli Mogen with five points each, while Krystal Wold, Iida Lehto and Kennidy Chapin ended the game with two points each.
Katie Mogen led Watford City with six assists, while Sparby had two blocks.
Watford City 20 44 67 81
Ray 3 13 23 27
Region 8 Tournament Semifinals
Watford City 68, Trenton 35
Trenton never knew what hit them as Watford City blasted the Tigers, 68-35, in the semifinals of the Region 8 Tournament on Tuesday.
As against Ray, the Wolves took control of the game early and never looked back. While Watford City’s offense scored at will, the Wolves defense dominated the Tigers’ offense.
The Wolves led Trenton, 23-2, after the first quarter of play, and then allowed the Tiger offense only eight points in the second quarter as Watford City built its lead to 54-10 at halftime.
“Again, we were able to get off to an excellent start,” stated Zenz. “Unfortunately, Lea Arndt pulled her calf muscle during the first quarter and wasn’t able to continue, but the girls filled in for her and we went on to a 68-35 win.”
Watford City continued to control the tempo of the game in the second half as the Wolves led the Tigers, 54-27, at the end of three quarters of play.
Katie Mogen poured in a game high 22 points to pace both teams in scoring, while Ricki Lindley joined her in double-figure scoring with 14 points.
Also scoring for Watford City was Mackenzie Sparby with eight points, ReiAnn Lindley with seven points, Kaytlyn Grimes with six points, Krystal Wold and Alli Mogen with four points each, and Avery Sundeen with three points.
For the game, Watford City hit on 27 of 41 attempts from the field for 66 percent and were good on three of nine three-point shots. At the free-throw line, the Wolves hit on only five of 14 attempts.
Watford City 23 37 54 68
Trenton 2 10 27 35
Region 8 Tournament Championship
Watford City 67, New Town 42
Last year, the Watford City Wolves were devastated when they fell to Parshall in the Region 8 title game. But the Wolves weren’t about to let another region title slip through their fingers this year. And with a 67-42 win over the New Town Eagles on Thursday evening, the Wolves secured their place at the State Class B Tournament.
Playing like a team possessed, the Wolves once again used its pressure defense to hold New Town to just four first quarter points, while Watford City’s offense racked up 18 first quarter points.
With the loss of starter, Lea Arndt, to Watford City’s lineup, Coach Zenz made some last minute changes and started Kaytlyn Grimes, who scored the Wolves’ first basket of the game.
“We were able to build an 18-4 first quarter lead with the help of our half court trap,” stated Zenz. “But our ball-handling was a little shakier without Lea. But we continued to find ways to keep outscoring the Eagles as we went on to a 67-42 win.”
The Wolves led the Eagles by 22 points, 39-17, at halftime and by 23 points at the end of three quarters of play.
“Katie picked up two early fouls, so our deep bench came in to play,” stated Zenz. “Some girls played more minutes than they may have been accustomed to and in different positions.”
Watford City had three players score in double figures in the win with Ricki Lindley netting 20 points, while Katie Mogen and Kaytlyn Grimes netted 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Rounding out the scoring for the Wolves was Mackenzie Sparby with six points, ReiAnn Lindley and Alli Mogen with five points, while Avery Sundeen and Kennidy Chapin ended the game with two points each.
For the game, the Wolves hit on 24 of 52 attempts from the field and were good on three of nine three-point attempts. At the charity stripe, Watford City hit on 10 of 17 attempts.
Watford City 18 39 55 67
New Town 4 17 32 42