Three tips: what North Star GBB must do to succeed this season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

CANDO – The mid-2010s proved to be a memorable era for the North Star Bearcats Girls Basketball team. A 25-2 record during the 2015-16 season would have been enough. However, once you add a 26-1 run during the 2016-17 campaign, you begin to understand that the Bearcats wrote a name for themselves. 

Fast forward to the 2021-22 season, and the Bearcats have a golden opportunity to rekindle that former glory. With 10+ Letter Winners returning to the ranks, the Bearcats will have a chance to leave their mark in what will be a challenging Region 4 field. 

So, what will the Bearcats need to work on as they head into a new season full of uncertainty and parity? Let’s give it a look. 

The North Star Girls Basketball team poses for a photo during the 2020-21 season.

1. Remember tradition to create confidence

Adjusting and adapting on the fly is key to any team succeeding on or off the court. But sticking to your roots bears equal weight, if not more. For the Bearcats, these roots revolve around keeping an even keel and developing more confidence those historic Bearcat basketball teams illustrated game in and game out. 

As long as the Bearcats remember they can compete with anyone else in the region, the talent, experience and potential will reveal themselves. Doing so will give the Bearcats an acute resemblance to those mid-2010s teams of old. 

“When our kids put on a basketball uniform, they take pride in going out there to compete just like they do with volleyball,” North Star head coach Jill Vote said. “That tradition carries over the years. The kids playing right now, they watched our girls teams that were at State four or five years ago. Now, they are stepping into those jerseys and filling that tradition, and they are doing a great job. I think it is that pride of wearing ‘North Star’ on your jersey, and our kids really take pride in it. I think that is what really sets us apart from other programs is that rich tradition and success.” 

2. Versatility = victory 

Switching, mixing and matching are becoming the norm not just in basketball but in all sports. Being versatile and willing to play a different position effectively only gives teams more flexibility in dealing with foul trouble, injuries or underperformance. 

You would not have to tell the Bearcats this, of course. They have already taken this versatility to heart, whether it be playing volleyball or basketball. Whether it be Danielle Hagler, Lindsey Nyhagen or Gracie Miller, the Bearcats have shown the willingness to move players around the court as a means to find a matchup that best benefits them in the long run. 

“One thing I like about our team is that we are not fixed in one position where you can only be a guard or only be a post,” Vote said. “A lot of our kids have a lot of versatility, and so that is what I think makes us tough heading into the season. We can move kids around in a variety of positions, and we feel those kids can be successful, which will...hopefully help our team be competitive against all and create some tough matchups for other teams.” 

The Bearcats might not have the deepest scoring or defending team out there, but they might have the most flexibility. This alone will keep them within reach of any opponent they face. 

3. Find a third scoring option 

Let’s start with the good news. Hagler and Nyhagen, who both averaged 10+ points per game last season (22.6 and 10.0 points per game, respectively), will return to the starting lineup this season. The Bearcats additionally return four of their five main starters from last season. While this is all fine and dandy, that does not mean the team cannot improve in some areas. A third scoring option behind the Hagler-Nyhagen duo will only improve the offense, whether in more screen opportunities or fast-break chances. 

The Bearcats averaged 51.0 points per game (PPG) last season. While this is adequate if the versatility holds strong, another scoring threat will give the Bearcats more room for error should the versatility not be up to snuff in certain games.