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.
Click here to find all the Region previews.
Also, here’s the schedule for the upcoming girls previews:
Region 5 – Tuesday, Nov. 10
Region 6 – Wednesday, Nov. 11
Region 7 – Friday, Nov. 13
Region 8 – Sunday, Nov. 15
2020-21 Preseason Power Rankings – Monday, Nov. 16
Four Winds-Minnewaukan has dominated District 7 in the past but will we see a different team like possible Benson County or Harvey-Wells County finish first this season?
2019-20 record: 3-18
Warwick brings back nine letter winners from last season that includes two seniors in Kallista Jackson and Sarah Anderson.
5. New Rockford-Sheyenne
2019-20 record: 11-10
It was a tale of two halves in 2019-20 for New Rockford-Sheyenne. The Rockets won eight of their first 12 games but dropped six of their final nine to end the season. NR-S brings back three starters and four seniors that have solid varsity experience. Senior Dani Bjerke averaged 10.1 points, 3.5 steals and 2.0 assists last season, while Kayahna Hopfauf is back for her senior season after averaging 6.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest. The Rockets also bring back solid senior players in Cassie Longnecker (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9) and Chloe Heinz (6.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Longnecker has strong court vision and Heinz will see increased minutes this season. In their 10 losses last season, the Rockets lost each game by an average of 26.4 points. Elliot Belquist wants his team to be more competitive against top tier teams and I can see them doing that in 2020-21 if the Rockets can find consistent scoring and more depth.
4. Nelson County
Dakota Prairie and Lakota will join forces this upcoming season to form the Nelson County co-op. With any new co-op there’s communication issues at times but the Chargers will have a deep and veteran squad with 10 upperclassmen back. Leading the charge for Nelson County will be three student-athletes in Kylee Baumgarn (Sr.), Marit Ellingson (Jr.) and Nora Johnson (Jr.) that combined for 31.6 points and 21.2 rebounds per game in 2019-20. This team may surprise some people this season but I need to see first how they mesh together early in the season. I do like the Hornets have three top players and plenty of depth to keep the foot on the gas during each game.
3. Harvey-Wells County
2019-20 record: 14-9
Harvey-Wells County returns a fair amount of experienced players from 2019-20 that includes District 7 standouts in senior Zoe McKinven and junior Kalyn Keller. McKinven averaged 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last season, while Keller averaged 8.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Both student-athletes can shoot from beyond the arc and Keller gives the Hornets a good inside presence. Senior Maggie Raue will look to build off a strong 2019-20 season where she averaged 6.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. H-WC has a lot of depth heading into the upcoming season with nine upperclassmen on its roster. But they’ll have to find ways to score more affectively in the half court game.
2. Four Winds-Minnewaukan
2019-20 record: 20-4
Four Winds-Minnewaukan said goodbye to Latasha Bellile and Riah Littleghost after last season, who were both big parts of the Indians success in the past. Sean Gourd’s squad, however, brings back three starters and quality bench play. Junior Myona Dauphinais is back and one of the top players in Class B. She averaged 14.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per contest in 2019-20. Dauphinais also drained 66 3-pointers and earned a spot on the All-Region team. The Indians also bring back talented juniors Ezura Rainbow and Mahpiya Jackson to give this team one of the better three player combos in Class B. I’m worried about the depth of FW-M, however. The seven other letter winners that are back for FW-M combined for just nine points last season. So, look for those players to see increased roles this season as the Indians learn to move on from Bellile and Littleghost.
1. Benson County
2019-20 record: 14-7
Benson County returns four starters from its 2019-20 lineup that includes one of the top players in the 2021-22 class in Quinn Neppl. The Wildcats will be a junior heavy team this season as just one senior returns in Kearyn Nelsen (6.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Neppl averaged 20.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.5 assists as a sophomore and will have to evolve her game even more this season. Benson County will also lean heavily on junior Desidy Schwanke (10.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and junior McKenna Tofsrud (4.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg) will have to play more minutes in 2020-21. The Wildcats have a ton of potential that’s been building up the last few seasons and this season can be the year they pull ahead of everyone in District 7 if they get some more balanced scoring and better defensive play.