Three tips: what Benson County GBB must do to succeed this season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

LEEDS – The Benson County Wildcats have a bone to pick. While their 16-7 record during the 2020-21 season was certainly honorable, it was not enough in the minds of Wildcat coaches and players alike. After their loss to the Four Winds/Minnewaukan Indians in both the District 7 and Region 4 Girls Basketball Tournament, the Wildcats are in the market for a platter of payback. 

Should the Wildcats wish to cash in with victory after victory against marquee team after marquee team, they will need everyone from the bench to the lineup to pitch in. 

The Benson County Wildcats Girls Basketball team poses for a photo during the 2020-21 season.

Here are three tips the team must go by as they begin their 2021-22 season. 

1. Team first, player second

While this tip might come off as trivial, it holds just as much merit as any other. This is especially apparent in the case of the Wildcats, who might not have the biggest or deepest roster out there compared to other Region 4 powers. Even if the likes of Quinn Neppl and Desidy Schwanke collect their usual buckets, Benson County will need to reinforce them with enough support to provide a security blanket if they foul out, get double-teamed, or even get injured. 

This mindset additionally pertains to the defensive side. 

“If we do not play team ball, teams are going to key in on Quinn [Neppl] and Desidy [Schwanke],” Benson County head coach Kent Neppl said. “As far as team defense, if we do not play good help defense, help up and help off, we are going to be in trouble because it is going to take everyone to try and stop these bigger teams and bigger players down low. It is going to take two girls to try and stop that bigger player. With other girls recognizing who is going to help and who is going to help over. It is going to be huge.” 

2. Lean on the Big 3 

Now, this might run contradictory to the previous point, but at the end of the day, a team’s strength is a team’s strength. When the goal gets tough, the Wildcats will need supporting players to step up, but when things are going right, the Quinn Neppl-Desidy Schwanke-Ashlyn Williams trio will make it so. Last season, all three players led the team in points per game (PPG) (22.1, 10.7 and 6.4, respectively). Neppl additionally averaged 6.7 rebounds per game and 3.5 steals per game. 

“Those three are going to have to step up their game,” Neppl said. “People are going to key on them. It is going to be very important. Our success is going to really bounce around the whole team, but those three are a big part of our success. I believe in a five-person team, and it takes all five more so on the defensive side than the offensive side, but it is going to come around those three getting their looks and finishing their looks.” 

If the trio can create their scoring chances even with the defensive pressure, the rest of the team will benefit with cleaner looks of their own. It is a domino effect, and if the Wildcats can play them effectively, they will have an experienced lineup capable of dictating the pace on their terms. 

3. Keep it spicy on both ends of the floor

Defensively, Neppl has a goal he wishes his team to achieve this season: no three-pointers or layups. To Neppl, it is all about giving the opposing offense a run for their money. Whether that means intense man-to-man sets or a more balanced zone scheme remains to be seen, but Neppl wants to play quick. 

This quickness on the defensive side, in Neppl’s mind, will also try to translate on the offensive end, where the likes of Neppl and Co. will attempt to capitalize on a slew of opposing mistakes as a direct result of the fast pace. 

“We are going to spread it out and push the ball,” Neppl said. “We are going to play faster. We are going to play faster offensively and defensively. We are going to put a little more pressure on teams. We have to apply a little more pressure and don’t let them get that easy extra basket in the post. Make them work for that entry pass.”