Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal Sports, January 12th, 2017.
A conference win is a valuable thing. The Lake Region State College women's basketball team notched its first Wednesday evening at the Devils Lake Sports Center. From opening whistle to the final buzzer, the Royals controlled the action against visiting Williston State College. LRSC walked away with an 87-54 win over the Mon-Dak Conference foe.
With the victory, the squad improves to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
For third-year head coach Danny Mertens, one ultimate goal of the conference season stays the same each year.
"Like I have always said, if you can win all your games at home and go .500 on the road, your team will put itself in pretty good shape," he stated. "It was good to take care of business tonight at home, now we have an opportunity to improve our road conference record to 1-1 against Dawson. We closed chapter two tonight, now we move on to the next one."
Two areas that Lake Region State College have continued to concentrate on are winning the rebounding and turnover battles.
The home team did both of those things against Williston State College. LRSC finished with 46 rebounds, including 22 offensive, compared to 38 by the Tetons. Picking up the offensive boards has been a point of focus, Mertens said.
"That's something we have talked about a lot," the coach pointed out. "I was glad that we were able to win the edge on rebounding again tonight. That's a goal of ours every single time we step on that court."
When it came to turnovers, LRSC limited its own and forced a lot for Williston State College. The team won the turnover battle 30-12 over the Tetons.
"It's a good sign," Mertens said. "Defensively, we did a good job of getting after them from the start. Considering how much we ran up-and-down the court, I thought we did a very good job handling the ball throughout the night."
It was a strong start for the Royals as they scored the first 11 points of the game. Buckets by Cassidy Nelson, Emily Schafer and Jillian Hanson helped the team jump out to a comfortable lead early. Lake Region State College held a 23-12 advantage after one period of play.
The home team began a 26-2 run early in the third and didn't look back. LRSC led 68-33 going into the fourth and final quarter.
Lake Region State College wrapped up the 87-54 victory.
Cassidy Nelson led the way for the Royals with 20 points and eight rebounds The sophomore was 8-of-10 from the field.
"She continues to be our most consistent player," Mertens stated. "All year, she has been our go-to force in the paint. Again, Cass just simply got the job done."
Schuster finished close behind with 18 points including four three-point shots. Mackenzie Irwin scored 13 points. Jillian hanson also hit double figures with 11 points. R'Rionna Brocks scored nine points while Schafer netted eight points.
"It was good to see balanced scoring. Anytime you can have four players in double figures, you are happy," Mertens said,
Going into the game, the coach talked about the importance of the Royals worrying about themselves.
"Our energy was pretty good today," he said. "I thought we took care of business. Now, we are looking to keep improving."
The Royals travel to Montana Monday for a conference encounter against Dawson Community College.
"They bring a lot of experience back. We are going to have to go down and play well to walk away with a win," the coach said. "It's an important road game."