Three Takeaways: Day 3 of Lake Region Invitational

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – The Lake Region Invitational has come and gone, and Four Winds/Minnewaukan came away with the tournament title. However, the event’s conclusion does not mean there weren’t any takeaways worth talking about, especially when looking at the third day of tournament action. Here are three takeaways from the final day of the Lake Region Invitational. 

1. Four Winds/Minnewaukan is a legitimate state contender 

Yes, it is early in the season, and injuries can derail even the deepest of teams out there. However, if health stays on Four Winds/Minnewaukan’s side, they are not only region and district forces. No, they are also state title contenders. 

Three players took home all-tournament honors in Myona Dauphinais, Alionna Lawrence and Ezura Rainbow. Rainbow additionally took home the MVP award. Once you add in Mahpiya Jackson and Mallory Yankton, among others, you have a team that efficiently runs six or seven deep on even a sub-par day. 

The Lady Indians averaged 69 points per game (PPG) during the three-game tournament stretch. While the season is still in its infancy, the Lady Indians showed their ability to play fast, maintain aggression and utilize flexibility. It was a compelling finish for a team that seemingly fell short during previous tournaments. 

2. Picking-and-rolling leads to winning 

The ability to set up a screen is ever so critical, especially in generating seams and finding lanes. Four Winds/Minnewaukan and Dunseith established this precedent early, and this was precisely how they made it to the tournament final in the first place. The Dunseith duo in Brailyn Davis and Tiyahna Trottier illustrated their size, as did the Lady Indian trio in Alionna Lawrence, Ezura Rainbow and Mahpiya Jackson. 

Size helps, but the basic concept of the pick-and-roll remains consistent across all shapes. Establishing screens opens up many more opportunities in the paint and on the outside, should teams wish to use these screens to spread the defense thin. 

The pick-and-roll is one of the most universally known basketball schemes out there, but for a good reason. The Lake Region Invitational illustrated this concept to a tee. 

3. Claire Heilman = an asset for the present and future 

The Devils Lake Firebirds have a rising star in their ranks. Although she is only a ninth-grader, forward Claire Heilman played like a junior. Her 15-point performance during her team’s opening contest against Nelson County on Dec. 2 should have given folks the idea, but even during her second and third game, the intangible factor was there for her. She made good cuts and showed her versatility in the passing and defending department. Although she played for the Devils Lake JV team, her ability to read a court was up to par with the varsity players she was guarding. Keep an eye on this player.