Welcome to our 2020-21 season preview series. This year we’ll start with the girls’ previews and we’ll drop our 2020-21 Preseason Power Rankings after we preview all eight Regions and then move into the boys’ previews. Every other day a Region preview will be published at nodakbasketballhub.com. You can also find all the previews under the 2020-21 Season Links tab on the home page of our website.
Kindred had high hopes of making a fourth straight trip to the state tournament last season but Central Cass had different plans. The Squirrel’s knocked off Sam Brandt’s squad in the 2019-20 Region 1 championship game and went on to finish fourth at the state tournament. Both Central Cass and Kindred bring back plenty of talent but are they favored to finish one and two in Region 1? Let’s dive in to the Region 1 2020-21 season preview.
Region 1 2019-20 record (12 teams): 132-131
12. Oak Grove
2019-20 record: 3-18
After finishing the 2019-20 season with a 3-18 record, Oak Grove couldn’t wait to start the offseason. The Grovers were competitive at times last season as nine of their losses were by 11 points or less. Oak Grove is a young team with just one senior on its roster in 5-foot-11 forward Mya Buffalo. Junior guard Isabel Anderson was a do-it-all type of player for the Grovers last season where she averaged 6.9 points per game and 4.0 rebounds. Anderson also knocked down 31 3-pointers and had 40 assists and 39 steals in 21 games. She’s the go-to player for Oak Grove but Mike Forsberg needs someone else to step up and score. Junior Sydney Steinhaus averaged 6.7 rebounds per contest last season but will have to increase her four points per game average in 2020-21. The Grovers also welcome back juniors Charlee Lang and Remi Johnson, who combined for seven points per game last season. While the Grovers will show improvement in 2020-21, Mike Forsberg’s team still has a lot to learn on the court for them to be contenders in Region 1. With eight underclassmen on its roster, don’t be surprised if Oak Grove starts to climb in the Region 1 standings within the next few years.
11. Maple Valley
2019-20 record: 5-16
Maple Valley has had a rough couple of seasons lately and that trend could continue in 2020-21. Dating back to 2016-17, the Raiders have won a total of 14 games and five of those wins came in 2019-20. After graduating two solid post players, Maple Valley will see more struggles ahead in the upcoming season, especially rebounding wise with its smaller lineup. On the bright side, the Raiders return an All-Region player in Courtney Hovelson. The 5-foot-9 senior averaged 13.8 points per game and 10.3 rebounds in 2019-20 and is projected to have a big senior season. Maple River also returns a talented sophomore guard in Chloe Wetch, who averaged 7.7 points per game and three rebounds. The Raiders will have to get more production out of juniors Michelle Bodziachowski (2.8 ppg and 1.6 rpg), Mali Baasch (1.7 ppg and 2.1 rpg) and Jordyn Ewine (1.1 ppg and 1.7 rpg). All three of those student-athletes will see their minutes increased this season. Head coach Nathan Hoots has a team with five upperclassmen and five underclassmen. So, this could be a big learning year for freshmen Iris Richman and Kiana Lerud, who combined for close to six points and three rebounds per game in 2019-20. Adyson Hannig (eighth-grader), is also a underclassmen to keep an eye on and has the potential to be a good player for the Raiders if she continues to develop her skills.
2019-20 record: 10-11
If you are a super fan of Class B, you know the Mauch name. Hankinson will have to adjust to life without former superstar Jasmin Mauch, however, another Mauch in Kya is back for her junior season. Kya had a dominant sophomore season where she averaged 16.5 points per game and 11.5 rebounds. The Pirates also welcome back junior guard Sadie Keller, who averaged 7.3 points per game and 4.0 rebounds last season and juniors Savannah Falk and Tenley Evans will have to take a big step forward this season. The big question for Hankinson and first-year head coach Carter Mauch is how will the young squad respond without Jasmin? Of the 12 student-athletes on Hankinson’s roster, seven are freshmen. If the Pirates get some players to step up and help take the attention off Kya, this team can surprise people in Region 1, however those underclassmen will have to play above their level if Hankinson wants to be successful in 2020-21.
2019-20 record: 7-14
Wyndmere/Lidgerwood had a chance to advance in the Region 1 tournament last season but fell just short after losing to Milnor/North Sargent 70-66 in the opening round. The Warbirds bring back that same team and should have “win a region tournament game” as one of their main goals because this 2020-21 W/L team has the ability to snap the four year drought. Erin Bohnenstingl’s squad brings back five upperclassmen that includes four seniors. Senior Drew Frolek is do-it-all type of player and averaged 12 points per game last season along with 3.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals. The Warbirds also bring back some height in 6-foot-0 seniors Kendra Kaczynski (8.1 ppg and 8.1 ppg) and Ashlie Mauch (2.1 ppg and 3.1 rpg). Sophomore forward Gracie Kaczynski will also look to improve off her solid freshman campaign where she averaged eight points per game and seven rebounds. For the Warbirds to be successful this season and compete in Region 1 they have to clean up their mistakes and take care of the basketball. This team has a good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen, and if players took a step forward this offseason, I could see W/L have a chance to win 10 or more games this season.
2019-20 record: 6-15
Depth has been an issue for Lisbon in the past and it will be again in 2020-21. Luckily, most of the student-athletes that return this year have varsity experience. The Broncos welcome back senior sharpshooter Olivia Tuhy (9.0 ppg and 3.9 rpg) and senior Kendra Odegard, who averaged 8.7 points per game in 2019-20 and 6.1 rebounds. Barb Sweet’s squad will also get strong play from juniors Ellie Rieger (9.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg) and Asha Sweet (6.8 ppg and 2.8 rpg). Playing from the inside-out is when Lisbon is at its best since they do have multiple 3-point shooters. The Broncos are a gritty team that can play strong defense. Don’t be surprised if you see the Broncos knock off one of the top teams in Region 1 this upcoming season, however, they’ll need to figure out quickly, who comes off the bench. Juniors Sheyenne Waletzko and Ella Reinke look to be those players and will have to make plays but they did not see a ton of minutes last season.
2019-20 record: 10-12
One of the main goals for Tri-State this season is to play better defense. The Tigers gave up 60 or more points eight times in 2019-20 and finished with a 10-12 record. Tri-State brings back some talented student-athletes in the back court that includes junior Mary Rupp (12.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg) and freshman Hannah Leverson (11.6 ppg and 3.7 rpg) but will need to find post players with Taiha Lick and Halle Hokanson gone. The Tigers have some solid young talent with Leverson and 5-foot-7 sophomore Rehme Laurence (3.4 ppg and 3.1 rpg). With Rupp only being a junior, I think Tri-State is headed in the right direction and could make a big jump in 2021-22.
6. Sargent County
There are some unknowns for Sargent County headed into the 2020-21 season. The new co-op (Sargent Central and Milnor/North Sargent) definitely has a talented roster but will the team connect with each other right away? The depth is there for the Bulldogs but finding everyone’s role is going to be key for second-year head coach Randy Syrstad. This team has a little bit of everything. Sargent County has good leaders and strong players in seniors Jasmine Sherlock (10.3 ppg, 3.6 apg and 3.0 rpg) and Christina Mathias (8.0 ppg and 4.3 rpg) along with junior Annika Nelson (12.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg). And the Bulldogs have a strong underclassmen presence with sophomore Jami Bopp (11.2 ppg and 11.5 rpg). I wouldn’t be stunned if Sargent County finishes Top 4 in Region 1 this season, however, it’s difficult to predict if two teams coming together will connect especially coming off such an odd offseason. The Bulldogs have a strong lineup, so it’ll be exciting to see where this team finishes in Region 1.
2019-20 record: 8-12
Enderlin will be one of the shortest teams in Region 1 this upcoming season as they have no player taller than 5-foot-10. But that doesn’t mean you should write this Eagles team off. Gareth Hanson’s team brings back five student-athletes that played significant minutes in 2019-20 that includes 1,000-point scorer Katelyn Tingley. The 5-foot-7 senior averaged 14 points per game last season and 5.1 rebounds. She’s Enderlin’s go-to player and has a supporting cast that can make the Eagles a Top 5 team in Region 1 by the end of the 2020-21 season. Senior Kaylie Schlecht is another important piece for the Eagles and is a good leader on the court. Schlecht averaged eight points per game as a junior and 2.9 rebounds. Seniors Raelee Bartholomay and Sydney Baarstad will have to step up but have shown they are capable of that and sophomore Genevieve Gruba (11.3 ppg and 10.2 rpg) looks to build off a stellar freshman season. Gruba will be a Class B household name by the end of the 2020-21 season. Enderlin has the talent and experience but depth and height are issues and if you can’t teach height, they’ll have to out hustle its opponents.
2019-20 record: 15-8
If you look back at the 2019-20 season, you’ll notice Richland dominated mediocre teams and lost big to top teams like Kindred and Central Cass. First-year head coach Reggie Jackson wants to change that and help the Colts beat top tier teams in Class B. And continuing to let junior Megan Roob take control is a good place to start. Roob averaged 21 points per game in 2019-20 and has already scored over 1,000-points in her career. What makes Roob so special is her ability to get the basketball to her teammates at times when they can make an impact. The Colts also welcome back senior leaders in Rylee Hendrickson and McKenzie Johnson. Richland has the potential but that step to competing with top tier Class B teams needs to happen soon before Roob is no longer in a Colts uniform.
3. Northern Cass
2019-20 record: 16-7
Northern Cass won double-digit games for the first time since the 2016-17 season and have a chance in 2020-21 to win 20-plus games. This is a team that has five instant scorers in its starting lineup. Sophomore Halle Crockett leads the way as she averaged 19.8 points per game last season and earned All-Region honors. Crockett is one of the most talented players in Class B and she’s only a sophomore. When Crockett isn’t scoring, she’s dishing off to junior Emma Lucas (8.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg) or junior Allie Slinger (8.9 ppg and 3.9 rpg), both can knock down a 3-pointer when asked. Seniors Macie Danielson (3.5 ppg and 2.0 apg) and Morgan Nelson (6.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg) are also key pieces to the Jaguars puzzle and can easily get to the hoop and score or make a big play defensively. What makes Northern Cass tough is they have height and positions one though five are athletic. They do need to work on closing games out as they lost four games last year by a combined 21 points but this team will be in every game late night in and night out.
2. Central Cass
2019-20 record: 20-6
After bringing back a handful of student-athletes that played in the 2019-20 state tournament, Central Cass is primed for another strong season. The Squirrel’s are one of the deeper teams in Class B this season as seven players return that averaged four points per game or more in 2019-20. Head coach Jay Bachman has a quick and gritty bunch that features six juniors and seven sophomores. Sophomore Decontee Smith is a top ranked underclassmen and averaged 10 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals as a freshman and made the All-Tournament team. Kailey McKinnon is another strong scorer for the Squirrel’s and averaged 9.1 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a sophomore. Juniors Rylie Holzer and Morgan Lee are also strong players and leaders for this team. It’ll be fun to see how much underclassmen players like Tori Richter, Delaney Cotton and Klaire Cotton have grown this offseason. What makes Bachman’s squad so tough to defend is the fresh bodies they bring off the bench. I want to see how Central Cass responds after the stellar season they had a year ago. There’s no doubt this team belongs among the best in Class B but I feel this team isn’t getting the love they deserve. Now that they are going to get everybody’s best shot every night, they need to embrace that target on their backs and show the state it wasn’t just one and done at the state tournament.
2019-20 record: 22-1
Kindred has the best one-two punch in Class B with Abby Duchscherer and Terryn Johnson back for their junior seasons. The Vikings have had plenty of time to think about their season ending 68-61 loss to Central Cass but will have no trouble putting that behind them. With a young but experienced team back, Sam Brandt’s team will be picked by many to win the 2020-21 state tournament. Duchscherer averaged 24.2 points per game, 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 steals last season while Johnson added 16.2 points per contest and 10.3 rebounds. The Vikings also bring a lot of depth back with junior Jordyn Sunram and sophomore Charli Mcquilian being able to score the basketball and defend. Kindred also has players at every position that can change the momentum of a game. Junior Tina Freier is back and averaged 8.1 points per game in 2019-20 and 4.2 rebounds, while sophomore sharpshooter Kacie Burner (12.1 ppg) looks to build off a strong freshman season where she knocked down 38 3-pointers. This group has been playing together for multiple years and that team chemistry is a major strength for Kindred. The Vikings will be the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason polls and rightfully so. It seems like this group of players for Kindred has been around for multiple years and that’s because they have. So, while Duchscherer and Johnson are the stars, this team has some strong underclassmen talent and it’ll be interesting to see how dominant this squad is this season after another offseason of growing and getting better.