Posted 12/01/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
After coming up just one win short of making it to the State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament last season, the Watford City girls basketball team is looking at making it all the way to the “Big Show” this year.
Last season the Wolves finished their year with a 22-2 record as they claimed the District 15 title before falling to Parshall, 50-45, in the Region 8 championship game.
After being disappointed with not making it to State last year, John Zenz, Wolves’ head coach, is optimistic that with so many talented players returning to this year’s squad, that this will be another great season for the Watford City girls basketball program.
“We have nine girls returning with varsity experience, including three starters,” states Zenz. “So we have a very good core group back.”
Leading the way for the Wolves will be senior Katie Mogen who averaged 18.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for Watford City last season. The two other returning starters are senior Ricki Lindley, who averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 assists per game and junior Mackenzie Sparby, who averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
“Katie Mogen has played in the post for us the past four years and has had a heck of a career so far,” states Zenz. “But this year with some of our lineups, she may get more of an opportunity to play on the perimeter.”
Likewise, Zenz sees a shift in positions for Ricki Lindley, who he may move to become the team’s primary ball handler.
“Ricki was our leading three-point shooter last year and has been shooting pretty well from the perimeter so far in practice,” states Zenz.
Sparby had knee surgery at the end of last season, but according to Zenz, she hasn’t shown any effects of the surgery in practice.
“Mackenzie became a very consistent low post scorer for us last year,” states Zenz. “And we are hoping for her to keep getting better.”
According to Zenz, in addition to his three starters this year’s team will have another six players with some varsity experience, seniors Lea Arndt, Kaytlyn Grimes, Alli Mogen, and Krystal Wold, as well as junior ReiAnn Lindley and sophomore Avery Sundeen, that he can plug into the rotation to give different lineups.
“Arndt returns as our fifth leading scorer and was third in assists from last year, and will help handle the ball for us,” states Zenz. “Grimes is back after taking last year off for the birth of her child, and as a sophomore she was our fourth leading scorer so she is someone that can put the ball in the hoop.”
According to Zenz, Krystal Wold, Alli Mogen, ReiAnn Lindley and Avery Sundeen, who all saw limited varsity time last season are going to be counted on to play bigger roles this year.
“Wold should be able to give us quality minutes in the post and Alli Mogen can play on the perimeter or post for us,” states Zenz. “Both ReiAnn Lindley and Sundeen will play on the perimeter and hopefully be able to provide some outside scoring for us.”
Rounding out Watford City’s varsity roster is sophomore Iida Lehto and freshman Lindsey Peterson.
“Both of these girls are in the process of getting used to the more physical play and aggressiveness at the varsity level,” states Zenz. “We look for good things out of them as they gain valuable experience.”
The Wolves are currently ranked as the top team in both District 15 and Region 8 and are in the No. 3 spot in the state in the 2015-16 edition of the North Dakota basketball preview by the Miss Hoopster magazine.
“We look to have a very exciting and entertaining season this year,” states Zenz. “We ‘beefed’ up our schedule a bit this year adding Shiloh, Dickinson High, and Turtle Mountain, along with the other quality teams that we already play in our schedule.”
The Wolves will open their varsity schedule against Richardton-Taylor at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8, in opening round action of Killdeer’s Roughrider Tournament.