Another season of North Dakota high school girls basketball is underway and I'm excited to be covering it for Midco Sports Network!
I decided to create some early season power rankings to give everyone an idea of who I think will be the top teams in Class A and B. The good thing is that my silly rankings don't determine what happens on the actual court. I put them together for good talking points, to create exposure for these great athletes and if the rankings motivate a team to pull off the "upset"...that's great! Just know that I have great respect for all coaches and players because I know that they put in a lot of time and dedication.
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Anyway, without further ado, here are the Class A and B North Dakota girls basketball power rankings and preview. (Note: I did top 5 for Class A and top 10 for Class B because of the greater number of teams in Class B.) Also, make sure to look for high school sports coverage on Midco Sports Tonight, which airs 6-7 PM weekdays on Midco Sports Network!
- Fargo Davies
- Bismarck Century
- Devils Lake
Fargo Davies - It’s hard to not like the team that Tim Jacobson has this season. Seniors Raegan Linster (18 ppg) and Carly Kottsick (12 ppg) are back to lead an Eagles team that won 18 games last year, but got upset in the first round at state in overtime by the eventual state champs, Bismarck Legacy. The team will get a boost whenever senior guard Grace Geffre is able to return from a torn ACL that she suffered last year.
Bismarck Century - I could just as easily put Bismarck Century at the one spot, but I have them at number two. I expect Lauren Ware to really break through as a sophomore (OK, Captain Obvious). The 6’4” college prospect averaged 12.4 ppg, 12.2 rpg and racked up 113 blocks as a freshman. With Ware and junior Lilly Keplin (11.3 ppg) on the court together, the Patriots are built to contend for the next few years even after losing some great players to graduation.
Mandan - The Braves won the WDA tournament last season and only graduated one senior from that team. I expect Mandan to score a lot of points and win a lot of games this winter. The Braves averaged a state-best 78.5 ppg last season. They have a talented trio in junior Megan Zander (16.2 ppg), junior Kennedy Harris (14.6 ppg) and senior Courtney Olson (9.4 ppg). Abby Thomas’ team plays an entertaining style of basketball.
Shanley - The expectations are always high at Shanley and this season will be no exception. The Deacons may have lost Emily Dietz (NDSU) to graduation, but they do return their other four starters from a team that reached the state championship game last winter. Steve Jacobson has a group that will play tough defense all season long. Sophomore Reile Payne is coming off a sensational freshman season in which she averaged 15 ppg, 9 rpg and 4 spg.
Devils Lake - The Firebirds lost only two seniors, so this is an experienced group that is coming off a 6th place finish at state. Devils Lake really hit their stride late last season and now it will be interesting to see how they begin this year. Sophomore Jessica Mertens is one of the state’s best young players. She averaged 12.4 ppg and 6 rpg last year as a freshman.
Anything else? Sheyenne, St. Mary’s and Bismarck are three other solid teams. The Mustangs will be led by UND commit Maggie Manson, a junior, that averaged 14.5 ppg and hit 71 3-pointers last season.
- Grant County
- Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich
- Shiloh Christian
Grant County - The Coyotes have a really talented group coming back after winning 22 games and finishing 4th at state last year. Taylor Roehl (17.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Alexis Bentz (12.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) are expected to provide the majority of the scoring punch, but to be ranked this high you have to have depth and the Coyotes do. Fellow seniors Morgan Holum and Cassie Pierson along with sophomore Camryn Alt make this a dynamic team that has very good quickness and size.
Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich - This team has reason to enter this new season with plenty of optimism. The Cardinals finished 20-4 last year and were one of the best teams in the state all season. Senior guard Jordyn Worley should be in the conversation for all-state this season after averaging 17.5 ppg as a junior. She does a lot of other things really well, too. Sophomore forward Callie Ronningen is coming off an outstanding volleyball season and will look to carry over momentum to the basketball court. Ronningen averaged 12.7 ppg and 9.8 rpg as a freshman last winter. The Cardinals also have a new head coach in Rob Scherr who guided Park River-Fordville-Lankin to state in each of the last two seasons. Scherr will bring a defensive mentality to the Cardinals. His team limited opponents to an average of 34.1 points per game last season, a number that ranked 2nd in the state behind Class B runner-up North Star/Starkweather.
Thompson - After back-to-back seasons of losing to Park River-Fordville-Lankin in the Region 2 championship, it appears Thompson has the group to finally get over the hump and return to the state tournament. The Tommies return their entire team from last season (16-8 record) and that includes only one senior Kailen Dolleslager (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg). Jason Brend will have multiple scoring options to turn to and that should make for some long nights for opponents. Dolleslager and junior forward Taylor Zak made the All-Region team last season.
Rugby - When you play Rugby this season, you better be ready for full-court pressure offensively and defensively all night long. The Panthers only graduated one senior from last year’s team that won 20 games before losing to Our Redeemer by one point in the Region 6 semifinal. All-Region senior center Madison Uhlenkamp is a hard worker in the post and will be tough to play against on both ends. All-District players Tristin Lunde and Karsyn Hager should contribute a lot of offense, as well.
Kindred - I know the Vikings lost a lot of great players off last season’s team and their head coach. But, this has become a program that continues to reload rather than rebuild. The Vikings had a perfect season last year, finishing 26-0 and claiming the state championship over North Star. While they graduated standouts Mikayla Reinke, Brooke Hiatt, Kyra Braaten and Madison Erickson, they do return senior Victoria Braaten and 8th grade phenom Abby Duchscherer. Braaten is a great shooter and Duchscherer is one of the top prospects in the state after averaging 9.6 ppg as a 7th grader. Remember, it was Duchscherer that scored 10 points in the fourth quarter of the state championship game last season en route to being named to the All-Tournament team. Some might think Kindred is too high on this list, but I’m willing to wait and see how this plays out.
Anything else? I’m excited to see who emerges out of a very tough Region 3. Carrington, Medina-P-B, Edgeley-K-M and LaMoure-L-M should all be very competitive this season. I have 3 of those 4 teams ranked in my top 10.
OKAY, YOU'RE DONE! Now read the ND Class A & B Boys Basketball Season Preview!