Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal, February 22nd, 2017.
There's no better way to celebrate sophomore night than come away with an impressive win. Well, the Lake Region State College women's basketball team did just that Sunday at home. Using tough defense and teamwork, the Royals knocked off United Tribes Technical College 97-56 at home.
With the victory, the Royals improve to 16-11 overall and 5-6 in the conference. It was as well as the team as played for an entire game this season, LRSC head coach Danny Mertens told the Journal.
"A lot of things to be happy with," the third-year head coach noted. "I thought we came out with great energy. We were focused and it showed. That was by far the best half we have had all season long."
"They all did a wonderful job for us today," the coach pointed out. "It was great to see them play so well together on sophomore night. They had all given a lot to this program in their two seasons. Each of them played extremely well."
The team's consistent defense effort was a huge factor in the game. United Tribes has put up its fair share of points this season. To hold the Thunderbirds to just 56 points is an accomplishment, Mertens added.
"We have seen moments of being strong defensively this season," he said. "But, I thought today we put 40 minutes together on the defensive end."
LRSC got out to an extremely quick start in the first half. Inside buckets by Nelson and a three by Schuster helped the team jump out a 17-6 advantage. Lake Region State College led 21-9 after one period of play.
The Royals started the second quarter on a 19-0 run.Buckets by Emily Schafer and Mackenzie Irwin got the team going. Two buckets by R'rionna Brocks and a three from Mikayla Wallace helped LRSC take a commanding 40-9 advantage.
UTTC made a run late in the half as LRSC led 43-18 going into the locker room. The Royals continued to control the action in the second half. LRSC led 67-40 after three on the way to a 97-56 victory.
"It was one heck of a win," Mertens said. "The job now is to keep building on it and keep getting momentum going into the playoffs."
Every single player on the roster scored for the Royals. Nelson led the way with 21 points. Jillian Nelson and Schafer each added 13 points. Schuster finished with 11 points. Ella Gobald and Irwin, who had 12 rebounds, each scored eight points. Mer Gach and Brocks scored six points each. Wallace, Jade Hanson and Karly Kennelly scored three points a piece. Fee rounded out the scoring with two points.
"The message in the locker room was that everything we set out to do before the season is still attainable," Mertens said. "We play defense like that and play with energy for 40 minutes, good things are going to happen to this team."
LRSC takes on Dakota College at Bottineau Thursday on the road.
The Royals will host Williston State College in the first round of the playoffs Sunday afternoon at the Sports Center.
"Our goal is to keep building off of what we did today," Mertens said.