No. 2 North Star advances to state tournament

Sam Herder
The North Star girls basketball team poses with their Region 4 championship.

By Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

The North Star girls basketball team never mentioned the word “state” during its 18-1 regular season. Even as the Bearcats climbed the state basketball rankings, they kept a one-day-at-a-time mentality.

On Thursday night, the team could finally say the word state.

The Bearcats, now 23-1, defeated Langdon-Munich (18-6) in the Region 4 championship game, 45-35, in the Devils Lake Sports Center to advance to the Class B State Tournament.

“It’s very special,” North Star head coach Jill Vote said. “I don’t know if I can put it into words right now the feeling. It might be tomorrow before I can truly explain it. We set a goal all year long. We knew what it was, but we kept saying one day at a time.”

The last time a girls basketball team in the North Star area made it to the state tournament has a special connection to this year’s team.

“It was when Macey (Kvilvang)’s mom was a player,” Vote said. “So we’re looking at the early ‘90s. It’s pretty special you get to share that moment.”

Kvilvang, the 6-foot-5 junior, has been a big part in North Star’s run this season. She did it again Thursday, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

After taking a 35-24 lead at halftime, the Bearcats began to run away with it in the third quarter. Kvilvang scored 10 points in the quarter, but also found cutting teammates as she drew attention of the defenders.

“Everyone just says, ‘well she’s tall,’” Vote said. “But people don’t give her credit for how athletic she is. She can shoot the ball, but she’s a phenomenal passer as well and just a very good team leader.”

Defensively, the Bearcats held the Cardinals without a point in the third quarter in the first four minutes

“We really broke down film the other day and how we were going to guard (Jordyn) Worley and (Madison) Hart,” Vote said. “I thought Madison Borstad and Peyton Halverson guarding them did just a phenomenal job. Our role players helping off on them understood what they needed to do. We moved as a unit tonight and that’s what made us successful.”

The Cardinals hit some shots in the final two minutes, at one point bringing it to 40-33 with 65 seconds left. But North Star was able to hit free throws to keep its cushion and punch their ticket to state.

“We were tired,” Vote said. “We gutted it through. But the girls were so positive coming in. They kept each other up and knew it was going to take a team effort.”

The state tournament is held in Grand Forks this year from March 3-5. The matchups will be determined through a seeding process that takes place today and will be announced on WDAZ/WDAY between the second and third intermission of the state boys hockey game at approximately 10:15 p.m.