The B Beat with Harry Lipsiea: One game, one state spot
That didn't take long. In just two nights, the North Dakota Class B girls basketball field went from 64 to 16 teams in the hunt for a state tournament bid.
By the end of Friday evening, we know which squads will continue their seasons and will compete in the eight-team State Class B Tournament starting Feb. 3.
Locally, the Region 4 champion will be decided soon. On Thursday, North Star and Langdon-Munich will face off in the regional title game at the Devils Lake Sports Center. We know that either the Bearcats or the Cardinals will be representing Region 4 at state in Grand Forks next week.
Thursday's championship is a rematch of the District 8 title game as North Star, 22-1, and Langdon-Munich, 18-5, meet for the third time this season.
In January, North Star overwhelmed visiting Langdon-Munich as the squad earned a 73-53 home victory. The dynamic duo of the Bearcats' Macey Kvilvang and Stephanie Miller combined for 47 points.
Things were much closer the second time around as the Cardinals were within striking distance late in the game. North Star, leading 49-45 going into the fourth, used a solid final period to walk away with a 63-52 triumph in the District 8 title game.
Many felt that there would be a strong possibility that the teams would meet again for the region crown.
Both the Bearcats and Cardinals took care of business and the stage is set for Thursday evening.
I am expecting a tight game for 32 minutes and an entertaining contest for fans in attendance. Langdon-Munich has been flying under the radar for much of the year.
The Cardinals dropped three early contests against top 10 opponents Thompson, Park River/Fordville-Lankin and Grafton.
Since then, the Cardinals have went 13-2 with the team's lone losses coming at the hands of the Bearcats.
The strengths of Langdon-Munich include teamwork, nifty passing and strong team defense.
The Cardinals have been playing together for the past several seasons and that experience is paying off.
I remember seeing the squad play the last two years and thought Langdon-Munich would be a team to watch in the future.
Another thing I like about the second seed from District 8 is balance.
Senior Krystal Ratzlaff gives the Cardinals nice size inside at 6-foot-5 while junior Madison Hart and sophomore Jordyn Worley provide nice quickness on the perimeter.
Langdon-Munich can score from the inside and outside which makes them dangerous.
With that said, North Star is the favorite going into the matchup.
The Bearcats have played on the big stage before, making the region title game an annual event.
The squad returns four starters from last season's region runner-up team.
Like Langdon-Munich, North Star features excellent team work. You can tell this group has played together through the years.
Leading the way for the Bearcats is 6-foot-5 post Macey Kvilvang. Between her size, touch inside and basketball sense, she causes matchup problems for every single team in the state.
Sophomore Stephanie Miller is an impact player for the Bearcats, averaging nearly 19 points per game. Starters Madison Borstad, Peyton Halverson and Brenna Logie give the top seed in District 8 a balanced squad on both sides of the court.
While there's no doubt that the Bearcats' offense has been impressive this season, I think it's their defense that sets them apart from the rest of the field. North Star averages 65 points per game while limiting opponents to just 37 points on average throughout the 2015-2016 campaign.
To me, this game is going to come down if Langdon-Munich offense can find a rhythm against the stiff defense of the Bearcats. The Cardinals will have to use penetration by its guards to try and get open looks.
There's no doubt this will be a competitive matchup and I look for this game to be determined by fourth-quarter play.
Both of these squads have played tough nonconference competition to prepare for tournament play. The Bearcats and the Cardinals are among the hottest teams in the state and they will both play their hearts out to punch their ticket to the North Dakota State Class B Tournament.