Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich forces 29 turnovers to beat Four Winds/Minnewaukan to win the girls Class B Region 4 championship to earn birth to state tournament.

It’s been proven time and time again that in sports, in a team game such as basketball, defense wins championships.

Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich forced 29 Four Winds/Minnewaukan turnovers and held them to 24 points below their season average as the Cardinals defeated the Indians 59-46 Thursday, Feb. 21, to capture the Class B girls basketball Region 4 championship.

“They’re the highest scoring team in the state and we take pride in thinking that we’re a great defensive team and we did a lot during the year that our defense will take us to the state tournament,” Cardinals head coach Rob Scherr said. “That is what we are built around.

“We wanted to go back and say, ‘hey, who are we?’ We are a great defensive team. We take pride in it and go out there and show everyone who you are.”

Although the game was played on a “neutral site” at the Sports Center in Devils Lake, the packed house was definitely pro-Indians with Four Winds Community School’s campus just 15 miles southwest of the venue. And from the early beginning, the Cardinals (21-2) wanted to put a silencer on the crowd.

Morgan Freije opened the game with a field goal and with a basket at the 2:04 mark of the first quarter, the Cardinals led by six. A Callie Ronningen’s basket to end the first quarter put the Cardinals ahead 18-7.

The Indians (19-4) outscored Langdon Area 19-8 in the second quarter, was ahead by four at 26-22 after a Latasha Bellile 3-pointer but the Cardinals finished the second period scoring four straight, including a Kaitlynn Scherr basket at the horn that pulled Langdon Area even at 26 going into the locker room.

Four Winds/Minnewaukan never led again.

“We came out with a good first quarter and they came out with a great second quarter. We ended the second quarter fortunately with a tie but then we knew that we had two goals left to get to the state, we had to win the third quarter and we had to win the fourth quarter,” Rob Scherr said.

The Cardinals outscored the Indians 33-20 over the final 16 minutes.

“Turnovers, that’s what killed us,” said Indians coach Sean Gourd, who was named Region 4 Coach of the Year. “You’re not going to win many games with 29 turnovers, let alone a region championship against a team like Langdon.

“I don’t know, we just couldn’t take care of the ball.”

Ronningen, who scored 28 in the previous meeting between the two teams, finished with 18 points leading all scorers Thursday night. Lexis Olson scored 13 points and Freije and Scherr each had 10 points respectively.

“We have a young team, no seniors and honestly, this team has done more than I ever thought they could. I tell ya, I can’t believe what this team has accomplished,” Scherr said.

The Cardinals, who entered the region tournament as the second-ranked team in Class B, will enter next week’s state tournament at the Betty Engelstad Arena on the campus of University of North Dakota in Grand Forks one of the four seeded teams. The state tournament is set to begin Thursday, Feb. 28.

Riah Littleghost scored 12 points and Bellile and Myona Dauphinais scored 11 points each. Senior Jasmine Lohnes, the Lake Region State College signee playing her final game in an Indians uniform, finished with five points.

“It was a great season beyond what happened with tonight’s outcome. The last time the program won a district championship was 13 years ago. Hope this was a learning experience and hopefully can use this for motivation for next year to get where we want to be,” Gourd said.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ

Four Winds/Minnewaukan vs. Langdon-Edmore-Munich box score

Four Winds/Minn. 7 19 9 11 — 46

Langdon-E-M 18 8 15 18 — 59

FOUR WINDS/MINNEWAUKAN (19-4)

Littleghost 12, Bellile 11, Dauphinais 11, Lohnes 5, Rainbow 4, H. Keo 2, Deng 1, Santos 0. Totals 16 8-13 46.

LANGDON-EDMORE-MUNICH (21-2)

Ronningen 18, Olson 13, Scherr 10, Freije 10, Lowery 6, Henderson 2. Totals 19 20-28 59.