Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal Sports, February 27th, 2017.
The pre-game message of head coach Danny Mertens was clear Sunday afternoon inside the Devils Lake Sports Center. Facing a loser-out situation in the Mon-Dak Conference playoffs, the Lake Region State College women's basketball team had to win to keep its season alive.
"It's do-or-die. At this point of the season, you either take care of business or you don't," the third-year head coach pointed out.
Well, the Royal women took care of business in front of a home crowd. Jumping out to a quick start, Lake Region State College earned an 84-63 victory over Williston State College. With the victory, LRSC advances to the conference semifinals against NDSCS.
One key for the home team was the ability to bring energy right away. The Tetons made some plays early on and came to play, Mertens said. Trailing early, it didn't take long for Lake Region State College to take control.
"Coming out matching their energy was something we talked about. They are a team who had nothing to lose and we knew they were going to be scrappy," Mertens said. "Williston had energy right away and I thought we did a great job matching it. Then we were able to get out and do what we wanted to do."
Early Buckets by R'rionna Brocks, Emily Schafer and Mer Gach helped Lake Region State College take a 29-12 advantage after one period of play. From there, the Royals kept it going by taking a 47-25 lead at the half.
Williston State College had by far its best quarter in the fourth outscoring LRSC 24-14. It was, however, too little, too late for the Tetons as the Royals earned an 84-63 victory.
"It was a good win. We took care of our business and now we can move on to step two of a four-step process," the coach said.
Balanced was the name of the game for the Royals. Nelson led LRSC with 18 points. Brocks and Irwin scored 12 points each while Gach added 11 points. Jillian Hanson also hit double figures with 10 points. Jadyn Fee chipped in with six points. Ella Gobald, Schafer and Mikayla Wallace added five points each.
"I thought we really spread the ball around nicely," Mertens commented. "If we are able to get five in double figures, we are going to be in good shape."
LRSC travels to Wahpeton Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. matchup. The Royals bring a momentum to face the top-seeded team in the Mon-Dak Conference.
"We are on a nice stretch," the coach said.
"I hope that momentum carries into Wednesday. At this point, you focus on one game, because it could be your last. Hopefully, we come ready and get out of there with a win."