Three Takeaways: Day 1 of Lake Region Invitational

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Day No. 1 of the Lake Region Invitational saw its fair share of action, momentum swings and buzzer-beaters. However, what truly stood out during the four total that stretched from the afternoon to evening? Here are three takeaways from the first day of the Lake Region Invitational.

1. May the 4th be with you

If you like late-game drama, then the fourth quarter is for you. Of course, this can refer to the NFL and NBA, but this is a high school basketball article, and if the Lake Region Invitational taught us anything, the fourth quarter in the high school ranks brings just as much excitement. When looking at the fourth quarter through all four games, three winning teams (Devils Lake JV with 16, Benson County with 21 and Dunseith with 15) scored in the double-digits (Four Winds/Minnewaukan scored nine points in their 60-25 win over Park River/Fordville/Lankin). While the North Star Bearcats lost on a buzzer-beating layup to Dunseith, they too scored in the double-digits (11).

So, what is the point? Well, simple – it is not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. Instead, it is a relay regarding what offense can click in crunch time. As the tournament goes into its second and third day, look for each team to maintain or improve their late-game movement, especially in the passing department. 

If anything else, this brings more drama, but in the grand scheme of the regular season, the fourth quarter teaches each team how to make every minute (no, second) count.

2. Four Winds/Minnewaukan: deep 

Now, this seems pretty obvious. But it is worthing speaking anyway. When speaking about the Lady Indians, they have depth on their side, and even though they only have one game under their belt, they have already illustrated it. When junior forward Alionna Lawrence went down with a leg injury, senior center Ezura Rainbow and senior guard Myona Dauphinais helped captain the offense. Even the supplementary players from the bench pitched in, and the significance of this? Everything still looked fluid, at least in terms of it being game No. 1.

“We are developing a deeper bench this year,” Four Winds/Minnewaukan head coach Sean Gourd said after the win. “We had a scrimmage last weekend, and we had some girls sit out, but we had girls coming in that stepped up and showed a lot of promise…that just deepens our bench, and we want to trap, we want to press and we want to do things like that. I think we had the ability this year, compared to previous years.”

Fortunately for the Lady Indians, Lawrence returned to the court and went back to work like business was still booming (it was). However, the brief spell where the Lady Indians were without her proved that support was there. They can breathe easily.

3. How will Benson County adjust? 

While Four Winds/Minnewaukan might have the liberty of a deep bench, the Benson County Wildcats are not as fortunate. After their star guard/forward in senior Quinn Neppl went down with an injury, it was up to senior Desidy Schwanke and senior forward Hailey Maddock, among others, to shoulder even more of the load.

Now, there is good news for the Wildcats – they did pull out the 52-28 win against Larimore. There is a bigger question at hand, though. Depending on how long Neppl is out, who will they look off the bench to step in for the duration? A thin bench only becomes thinner with a player loss, so how the Wildcats adjust during the tournament and onward will be something to keep a keen eye on.

“It is going to be very important,” Benson County head coach Kent Neppl said. “I need everybody. I only have eight here. I only have eight ready to play, so these other kids are going to have to step up and fill some big shoes. Losing Quinn is going to be a big part of our team, so we will see.”