Three things: what LRSC WBB must do to succeed this season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – If there is a program ripe with the opportunity to rebound in a significant way this season, it would be the Lake Region State Royals Women’s Basketball team. A 2020-21 campaign riddled with injuries and COVID-19 issues inevitably spiraled the club to a 5-18 overall finish and 4-17 record in the Mon-Dak Conference. 

However, a new season brings a fresh opportunity for the Lady Royals to find their way back into the contending mix. With their season slated to begin on Nov. 1, here are three things the Lady Royals must do should they wish to turn heads and take names in what will be a competitive conference. 

The Lake Region State Women's Basketball team comes together for a post-practice huddle.

1. Keep a healthy pace

This point might seem straightforward, but that is because it is. A season riddled with injuries (not to mention a pandemic) prevented the Lady Royals from playing at the pace they wished to play. 

“I think we played two games with all 13 players out of 21,” Lake Region State Women’s Basketball head coach Danny Mertens said. “We played seven games with seven players. We played five games with eight. We had COVID issues, and we had knee issues… it is a combination of a lot of things. We have to get back to taking care of the ball and establishing ourselves inside. I think we have all those tools with what we have coming in. It is starting over.”

With a healthier roster eager to prove itself, look for the Lady Royals to play faster and with more authority given the depth they have going into the season. Of course, anything can happen during a season, but a season with more “normalcy” to its name will give the team a more comfortable feel as they begin to take to the court regularly.

Sometimes, that is all it takes. 

2. Utilize the size 

It only requires one quick glimpse at the roster to notice one thing in particular – the Lady Royals have strength on their side regarding the team’s collective size. Five players on the roster (Audrey Welle, Nicole Beckley, Josie Flaten, Pilar Ortiz and Iara Navarro) are 5’10” or taller. 

With a taller roster at their disposal, look for the Lady Royals to pound the boards, look for lanes and put pressure on the opposing team’s defensive zones. With this size, the Royals will look to dictate the game in their favor. 

“We are going to be big,” Mertens said. “We are as big as we have ever been. Last year, our biggest kid was 6’0”. I think Iara is on there, and she is about 6’3” with a seven-foot wingspan. Ortiz is 6’1”. We are big. Our guard position is very big compared to where we have been. We are going to hopefully pose a lot of matchup problems for teams, whether we need to go inside or outside. That will dictate whether we need to shoot it or pound it inside.” 

3. Blend together

Many teams cannot wish for anything more than health and size to be on their side. But, luckily for the Lady Royals, they have unique styles to work with also. Five international players make up the current roster (Ortiz, Navarro, Laura Ribo, Marta Lopez and Tiziana Huici). 

A team possessing a significant strength is one thing, but it is undoubtedly another if it has balance. Luckily for the Lady Royals, they potentially have both their size and the talents each player brings from across the globe. Trial and error might be apparent through the early portion of the season. Look for the team to change it up on both sides of the ball as they look to find that perfect style that fits every player’s mold.