Consistency continues to be key focus for Four Winds/Minnewaukan following loss to Shiloh Christian
The majority of the Lady Indians non-conference games this season have followed a similar pattern. Through three quarters, while still in the game, they are chasing a lead. However, in the fourth quarter, things become a lot closer and suddenly Four Winds' is within possession of a tie or a lead. But the clock runs out on them, seeing them only a few points shy of a different result.
The finishes where the Lady Indians pull within one possession but fall short has been common in their non-conference schedule, but not as much in district and region play. While Four Winds is 3-5 outside of their region, they are undefeated inside of it, pulling past teams seated at the top with them in Benson County and Dunseith twice.
The pace of a challenging non-conference schedule and a competitive regional schedule is bound to collide deeper into the season, and when that game challenge comes, the Lady Indians are looking for one specific thing: consistency. Against Shiloh Christian (10-5, 3-0) on Saturday Four Winds/Minnewaukan (7-6, 4-0) spent the majority of the game playing catch up before pulling within a possession with only a few second left in the game resulting in a 53-48 finish in favor of the Skyhawks. Things picked up for the Lady Indians, but by the time they did, the clock had run out.
"Other than Grafton, these games we've lost we've been there right at the end," Lady Indians head coach Sean Gourd said. "We just couldn't closeout. Our intensity just needs to pick up, including in practice. We're not as intense and consistent as we should be, and it's something that we have to keep working on. We've had some success, but we need to be more consistent in order to compete."
One of the factors is raising their sense of competition in order to have a rounded performance is getting the guards activated. Junior guard Myona Dauphinais was one of only two guards that scored throughout the game, scoring 14 of 18 points in that position, with post players junior center Ezura Rainbow and forward Mahpiya Jackson helping her out. Along with playing on the post, both Rainbow and Jackson would finish with 16 points, but spent the majority of the game playing out of position in order to support Dauphinais.
Dauphinais got hot early, sparking the attention of Skyhawk defenders as the game went on. She would down nine points in the first quarter before the Shiloh Christian double press arrived, limiting her to just five points through the rest of the game. Gourd said that Rainbow and Jackson's efforts at guard were helpful, but need the other guards to step up in order for the pair to playback on the post, where they are needed.
"It's nice to have three scorers in double figures, but we have to get some girls to help out more," Gourd said. "I knew Shiloh was bringing the pressure and we need to be able to handle that. We're playing against these tough teams and we got to play like that. We had some bright spots at times, but Ez had to bring the ball up a few times and that's hard to go from post to post like that."
In moving back Rainbow and Jackson into the paint, the Lady Indians are not only hoping to put them back in position but move pressure off of Dauphinais. She is adjusting into a new role this season from being an active shooter to being able to land shots from inside and outside the paint. Her shooting abilities from deep were forced into the paint as Shiloh Christian's press was instantly on her when had a look from 3.
"She's got a lot more responsibility this year compared to last year," Gourd said. "She's having to deal with the pressure coming full court and then having to get a good shot off. It's a lot to take, but she's handling it well. We just need some other girls to help pick up the slack sometimes."
The Lady Indians, while veteran in some places, are still one of the younger teams in the region. Dauphinais, Rainbow, and Jackson may make up the scoring core, but as the oldest players on the roster, they're only juniors. The rest of the group made up of mostly juniors and sophomores, needs to approach the game with more confidence and consistency to expand the scoring according to Gourd.
Having younger players get adjusted to the variety pace, Gourd and his staff a taken a forged in fire type of approach, loading up their non-conference scheduled with top state competition, which has paid off in conferenec play. The Lady Indians cruised past Harvey/Wells, Warwick, Nelson County, Dunseith, and edged past Benson County, who is currently on their tail for first in the district. In order to keep the trend up, Gourd has told his team that they have to keep moving forward no matter the result.
"We've just got to take care of business," Gourd said. "I told the girls that tonight wasn't the end of the season and that it isn't about how you start, but how you finish. The first two, three-quarters of the game we weren't into it, but it was nice to see some light at the end of the game that we can build upon."
The worlds of non-conference and regional play, if trends keep up, will clash on Feb. 1 against No. 10 Langdon/Edmore/Munich, a squad that has been a regional roadblock for a few years for Four Winds. The Cardinals have now won seven straight and haven't shown any signs of slowing down nearing the end of the regular season. When that collision might possibly come, the Lady Indians are looking to confidence in order to get them where they need to be...which begins in finding overall consistency.
"We just gotta be confident, be intense and smart with things," Gourd said. "We just gotta find some kind of consistency right now and it'll come. We're still all-in and want to make some history, but we gotta clean up a lot of details still. There are flashes here and there, but I'm hoping it all comes together."
Shiloh Christian 53, Four Winds/Minnewaukan 48
Shiloh Chrisitan - 11, 19 ,14, 9 - 53
Four Winds/Minnewuakan - 11, 10, 11, 17 - 48
Shiloh Chrisitan (10-5, 3-0) -- Kelly 4 0-2 14, Hall 5 4-8 14, Wood 2 3-4 8, Watt 2 0-0 7, Weston 1 3-4 5, Witzel 1 0-0 5. Totals 15 10-18 53.
Four Winds/Minnewaukan (7-6, 4-0) -- Rainbow 8 0-0 16, Jackson 5 6-6 16, Dauphinais 4 6-6 14, Malnourie 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 12-12 48.
3-pointers: Shiloh Chrisitan 5 (Kelly 2, Witzel 1, Wood 1, Watt 1). Four Winds/Minnewaukan 0.