Sixth-seeded Lakota-Edmore wins District 7 girls title

Sam Herder
Eighth grader Callie Ronningen scored 27 points, including sixth-seeded Lakota-Edmore's first eight in overtime, to lead the Raiders to the District 7 title with a 50-47 win against fourth-seeded Benson County.

By Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

In the game’s biggest moments, Lakota-Edmore turned to its youngest player. Callie Ronningen, just an eighth grader, put her team on her back when the District 7 title game at Four Winds High School went into overtime.

Ronningen scored the first eight overtime points for the sixth-seeded Raiders to lead them to a 50-47 win against fourth-seeded Benson County.

“Every single district game we played, we only won one of them, but all the other games that we lost were all the way down to the very end,” Raiders head coach Duane Connell said. “We knew a lot of the times that we kind of beat ourselves. If we put it together in this tournament, we knew we would turn around and win these games.”

It was a fitting finish for the Raiders (10-12). As the lower seed the entire tournament, Lakota-Edmore knocked off No. 3 Four Winds-Minnewaukan 63-62 in overtime in the first round.

They then beat No. 2 Harvey-Wells County 47-43 in the semifinals.

“We knew early on in the year that we were going to have an up-and-down year and be a little inconsistent,” Connell said. “But we thought if we stuck together, keep playing hard, that we would make a run for it in the tournament.”

Benson County (9-13) had an upset of its own to make the title game, beating top-seeded Warwick 51-50 in the semis.

For most of the game Monday, the Warriors took away Ronningen’s threat to score in the post. But the 5-foot-10 forward was able to find cutters when double teamed.

Benson County, though, had the lead and controlled the game in the first three quarters behind Dani Schwanke’s 20 points.

The Wildcats took that lead all the way down to the final minutes with a 40-36 advantage with one minute, 22 seconds left.

Ronningen brought it to 40-38 with an offensive rebound and putback with a minute left. After getting a stop, Ronningen again found a clean look in the post to tie it at 40 with 25.6 seconds left.

That score would stay, as Lakota-Edmore’s shot before the buzzer was no good.

Ronningen took over in overtime. She scored the first eight points for her team to keep them in the lead. Her two free throws gave the Raiders a 48-44 lead with 13.5 seconds left.

“(Ronningen) is just amazing,” Connell said. “You wouldn’t believe she’s an eighth grader, you’d think she’s a senior. When the ball is in her hands, she’s going to go to the basket and she scores about every time.”

Schwanke made it interesting with a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left.

Taylor Anderson, who finished with seven points, made one free throw after being fouled with 2.2 seconds left and Benson County’s last-second heave was well short.

Lakota-Edmore and Benson County both advance to the Region 4 Tournament in Devils Lake next week.

“Our confidence is sky high,” Connell said. “And we do play pretty well in Devils Lake, especially some of our shooters. They really like shooting there, so it should be interesting.”

Four Winds-Minnewaukan qualified for regional with a 57-54 win against Warwick.

Harvey-Wells County won the other regional qualifier, beating New Rockford-Sheyenne 64-40.

The region tournament is held Feb. 22-23, 25.