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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Royals eager to make noise in Kansas

  • By Harry LipsieaJournal SportsOn Monday, the Lake Region State College women's basketball team officially embarks on their national tournament experience. Thanks to the team's impressive 82-71 triumph over Sauk Valley Community College in the District D title game, the Royals qualified for the National Junior College ...
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  • By Harry Lipsiea
    Journal Sports
    On Monday, the Lake Region State College women's basketball team officially embarks on their national tournament experience. Thanks to the team's impressive 82-71 triumph over Sauk Valley Community College in the District D title game, the Royals qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 1 Championship in Salina, Kansas. They open up tournament play 4:30 p.m. Monday.
    The Royals bring in an impressive resume to the national field. With a 29-4 record on the season, Lake Region State College, seeded 21st, has been successful all season long. The veteran squad is looking to keep that theme going into Kansas.
    "It's always exciting to make a national tournament," Duane Schwab, 25-year head coach of Lake Region State College, pointed out. "By qualifying for this, we are one of 24 teams in the nation still playing. That's a great feeling to have." One of the biggest strengths for the Royals this season is offensive balance.
    Sophomores Jordyn Kirk, 16.1, Sarah Schafer, 14.1, and Leslie Hairston, 12.2, all have scoring averages in double figures. Sophomore Becca Scherr, 9.8, and freshmen Mykale French, 8.3, and Sarah Schwanke, 7.2, have both hit double figures their fair share of times during the 2013-2014 campaign.
    "That's kind of our forte," Schwab said of his team's balance. "If we can have four or five kids near double figures, we'll be in good shape. Having the ability to score at all five positions is important for us." Lake Region State College kicks off the NJCAA National Championship Monday against Salt Lake Community College from Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bruins, seeded 12th in the 24-team field, will pose a difficult roadblock for the Royals.
    According to Schwab, Salt Lake Community College, who earned an at-large berth to the tournament, has a lot of similarities to his squad. "They are very similar to us in a lot of different ways," the coach commented. "Salt Lake Community College isn't very big, but they are really fundamentally sound and don't make a lot of mistakes." The Bruins also rely on balance on the offensive side of the basketball. Natalie Parson leads the team averaging points and teammate Cassidy Fraughton scores 11.4 points per game. Four other Salt Lake Community College athletes average more than seven points. The main difference that separates the Bruins from the Royals is the tempo they play at.
    "They are a half-court team," Schwab stated. "We really like to get out and push the ball. Our girls may not always look to score from it, but it at least forces our opponents to hustle back." For now, the Royals are preparing for the road trip to Kansas which begins today (Thursday). One of the biggest challenges for Lake Region State College players will be to prepare mentally for the big stage. After all, the Bicentennial Center, which is the site of the tournament, holds more than 7,500 people when filled at capacity.
    Page 2 of 2 - "When you walk into a facility like that and see 60 or 70 Division 1 basketball coaches in the stands, it either pumps you up or scares you. We'll find out Monday," the coach pointed out. All the Royals can do is enjoy the experience, Schwab stated.
    "The girls are so excited. They are pumped up," he said. "It's important for them to have a good time and really take everything in."

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