L/E/M heads back to the drawing board after offense struggles to spark against Carrington

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Langdon/Edmore/Munich lost to Carrington, 45-39, on March 4 in NDHSAA Class B girls state quarterfinals at the Minot State Dome.

It was really a battle of the birds inside the Minot Dome Thursday night. The colors, the mascots, and the rankings were all almost identical between Carrington and Langdon/Edmore/Munich. However, that's where the similarities can to an abrupt halt. 

One Cardinal squad broke three players into double figures in scoring and hit 41 percent of their field goals. The other Cardinal squad saw a seven-point drop off from first in scoring to second, seeing their starting five combines for only 22 points. The Cards were moving on to face No. 1 Central Cass Friday, but the Cards were also moving into the consolation bracket on Friday against Hettinger/Scranton. 

The battle of the birds was one for the birds for Langdon/Edmore/Munich as they go into Friday looking to jumpstart their offense after a 45-39 loss to Carrington in NDHSAA Class B State quarterfinals on Thursday. The offense never really got the kick it needed throughout the game and in less than 24 hours, L/E/M is trying to figure out what's going to get the ball in the hoop.

"Offensively we didn't do much, but defensively I thought we were pretty steady," Cardinals head coach Rob Scherr said. "That's the kind of game that I thought we'd want defensively to win. I didn't know their defense would stop us like that."

The Cardinals continued to bring an aggressive, up-close defensive attack against Carrington, and it worked on one end. However, when L/E/M would get the ball, Scherr said that there was some hesitation to attack the net. Cardinals would shoot 30 percent from the field at 15-50. Junior forward Morgan Frejie would make up the bulk of the starting five's scoring with 14 points but would see the other four combine for eight points. 

"Usually seeing a similar defense to ours doesn't bother us," Scherr said. "Usually we blow-by, and we like that cause we can go to the basket. For some reason, we didn't attack. We played tentative on it...It's kind of like we felt the pressure and just panicked. To me, these girls should never panic." 

The offense lull is one that Scherr, his coaching staff, and the Cardinals are trying to figure out before another game tomorrow. The only thing he said he can kind of pin it to is the Cardinals possibly overplaying. L/E/M was able to put forward an offensive attack late that pulled them within three of the lead but forced fouling and turnovers built the deficit with not enough time to come back. 

The Cardinals did have some mental lapses, but Carrington did put forward a strong defense that L/E/M fought to breakthrough. Carrington center Sydnie Grager and forward Hannah Hagel used their height to their advantage as they would both pick up six defensive pulldowns and Grager would finish with a game-high three blocks. On offense they would convert too, seeing Grager down 15 and Hagle finish with 11. 

"For my team, I have enough faith that we could face their defense. I don't know what we were thinking," Scherr said. "I haven't seen them like this in quite a while. But they came back hard there at the end. Plays were made to win that game, but I just don't like turnovers. As bad as we shot, you just can't throw it away."

Turnovers stung L/E/M in the late spurt in the fourth quarter to possibly come back. Both teams turned over heavy, and the Cardinals had less in the overall count, but L/E/M's turnovers came in key moments. Carrington would let the ball slip 23 times to L/E/M's 20 times, but again, would just come at the least ideal times. 

In addition to the sparse scoring, L/E/M would see the fouls start to build up, eventually seeing freshman guard Jalynn Swanson foul out of the game late. In expanding their bench, Scherr said when Swanson had to sit, they were just looking for someone to score.

"We needed to find someone who was able to score," Scherr said. "With the timeouts, it was harder to go with our younger girls, but you'll see them tomorrow. We'll be back into a nine-girl rotation."

Going deeper into the bench and bringing JV girls up to the varsity roster has benefitted L/E/M in the postseason, and they're planning on running nine players come tomorrow's matchup against the Night Hawks. Hettinger/Scranton ran 12 girls against Central Cass on Thursday, most likely looking for a scoring edge as they fell to the Squerriels by 15.

L/E/M continues to see its younger players rise to the occasion as freshman forward Cora Badding finish with seven points. Before fouling out, Swanson played a big role in the rebounding effort, finishing with three pulldowns.

"It's going to be about whoever is strong with the ball and wants to go to the basket," Scherr said. "I feel bad for the girls. When they want something so bad, they're scared to get it. They get tentative. Well, you can't get tentative. You have to attack. They heard it for three years. When someone is in front of you, you don't just stop, you run them over."

The defensive effort was there for the Cardinals. Senior guard Lexis Olson and senior forward Kaylee Lowery both had five steals, seeing Lowery add six rebounds along the way. Carrington's Lexis Page may have finished at the net, but L/E/M forced her into seven turnovers. The Cardinals continue to approach their game with a strong defensive attack, but now need to uplift their game for a fifth-place finish in Minot. 

"We're going to have to do it by committee, keep subbing in and see who's hot," Scherr said. "We have to see who's ready to play and keep riding it. Tonight, I didn't want to throw the young girls into it as much, but tomorrow they'll get a lot of time and experience. Hopefully, you'll see the team come back and play their hearts out. They're a good bunch."

The Cardinals will face Hettinger/Scranton in the fifth place consolation bracket on Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Minot State Dome. 

Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for the Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, or on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.

Carrington 45, Langdon/Edmore/Munich 39

Carrington - 9, 21, 6, 9 - 45 

Langdon/Edmore/Munich - 14, 11, 6, 8 - 39 

Carrington -- Grager 5 5-7 15, Page 4 1-2 11, Hagel 4 0-0 11, Rindy 1 2-5 5, Edland 0 3-4 3. Totals 14 14-22 45.

Langdon/Edmore/Munich -- Freije 6 2-5 14, Badding 2 2-2 7, Pankratz 2 1-1 5, Olson 2 0-0 5, Henderson 1 0-0 3, Lowery 1 1-2 3, Swanson 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 6-10 39. 

3-pointers: Carrington 3 (Page 2, Rindy 1). Langdon/Edmore/Munich 3 (Olson 1, Henderson 1, Badding 1).