Three tips: what New Rockford-Sheyenne GBB must do to succeed this season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

NEW ROCKFORD – Elliott Belquist goes into his eighth year as head coach of the New Rockford-Sheyenne Girls Basketball team. In his experience, the Rockets have developed the reputation of working hard, never giving up and exerting enough physical toughness to give opponents enough of a problem to make an upset possible. 

It will be precisely this mindset the Rockets will once again have to lean on as they look to improve on a 10-10 record and first-round region exit from a season ago. Here are three tips the Rockets will need to prioritize as they head into the 2021-22 season. 

1. Strength in quality, not quantity 

Six players return for another ride at postseason contention. Although seniors Mya Cudworth and Kennedy Demester will need to take another step forward in production, it will be up to the remaining quartet of junior Madisen Myhre, sophomore Kelsie Belquist, freshman Kaiya O’Connor and eighth-grader Ava Peterson to pick up the slack.

“We lost a fair share,” New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Elliott Belquist said. “I have six girls I feel comfortable with right now playing at the varsity level. We need to find a few more that can give us minutes, but we lost a fair share that these six coming back had some minutes last year. Some of them did not play a lot, so we have some work to do. We are more inexperienced than we are experienced. We have a lot of youth, and we know we are going to be playing an eight-grader just like our volleyball team. An eighth-grader, a ninth-grader, a tenth-grader, junior and a couple of seniors, so pretty young.” 

Although the quantity in terms of varsity minutes might not be there, the Rockets will need to capitalize on the small quality they have from those minutes and maintain enough momentum to make that experience blossom into something bigger and better. 

There is no doubt about it – the Rockets are young. But there is an opportunity to take that youth and have enough quality to take it to the next level this season. That is what the team is banking on, anyway. 

2. Take the battle to them 

The Rockets might not be known as the premier scoring juggernaut in their region, but they might be the most tenacious. The Rockets will need to exert their will to create scoring opportunities. 

“We have to get better at running offensive plays,” Belquist said. “We have to play a little more up-tempo at times to try and get some easy buckets. Use some of our kids’ speed to get out and get steals and defensively get steals on defense to create some easy offense. We are not going to sit and battle teams in a half-court offensive set. That is not going to be a strength of ours, so we have to find a way to get some easy buckets.” 

The Rockets will not be able to play the waiting game. Instead, they will need to take the initiative to catch opponents off guard. 

3. Do not get too down and dirty 

This might run contradictory to the previous point, but there is a fine line the Rockets will have to toe between being aggressive and too aggressive. Given the lack of depth, the Rockets will have to stay away from too much man-to-man coverage and instead go toward more zone-oriented schemes as a way to limit fouling opportunities against his team. 

“You want to be physical and get up in their face a little bit on defense and cause some turnovers, but we are not going to be deep enough to be overly physical and aggressive to the point where we get our top six people in foul trouble because we just cannot afford that to happen," Belquist said. "We will have to change some things up and play in zones and do different things so we can conserve some fouls and pressure to keep the girls out of situations where they can get in foul trouble.”