The euphoria Berthold felt last February 23 was evident.
Dan Yale scored 26 points and hauled in 15 rebounds to lead that Bombers squad to a 61-52 Region 6 championship win over Bottineau and a berth in the Class B state tournament.
Fast forward almost a calendar year later. Berthold's without four starters from last year's team, including Yale, who now plays at Minot State. The wins, however, still come.
Berthold forward Logan Gunderson looks to score over Bishop Ryan’s Mason Kramer during the Bombers’ win Jan. 10 at Ryan’s gym. Berthold is 10-1 this season despite losing four starters from a team that qualified for the 2012 Class B state tournament.
A win against Kenmare on Tuesday brought the Bombers' record to 10-1, a mark few may have expected but one Berthold isn't content to settle with.
"We all expected to be a little bit better than that even," guard Jaeden Jenson said after scoring 16 points in a 50-40 win against Bishop Ryan on Jan. 10.
Those expectations have resulted in few even close games. Aside from the Bombers' lone loss, a 54-52 defeat against Trenton Dec. 13, every Berthold game has been played to a double-digit margin.
And despite the semi-exodus of graduated players, the Bombers' roster still contains four players in Jenson, Mitchel White, Logan Gunderson and Austin Lee who saw significant playing time last season and combined for 20 of Berthold's 61 points in last year's region-title game.
"We just mesh together," Gunderson said after the Ryan win.
- Adam Lawson
Ray's scoring trio has Jays flying high
In a non-district game at Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood earlier in January, Ray senior Kendra Heier and juniors Haley Hodenfield and Hanna Gillund combined for 53 of the Jays' points, rallying Ray from an 11-point halftime deficit to win 57-52.
The trio's performance this season helped the Jays squeak out close games against M-L-S and District 16 opponents Trenton and Watford City en route to an undefeated record through seven games. Heier registered 23 points against M-L-S, while Hodenfield tallied 20. That same week, Gillund recorded a double-double against Watford City with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
"They are high scorers," Ray coach Kelli Heier said. "Kendra and Haley do a lot of the creative work on offense and Hannah does a lot of her work under the basket."
Heier leads the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game and is nine points away from registering 1,000 for her career. She can reach the milestone tonight at Powers Lake. Heier also leads the Jays in assists (5.4) and is shooting 57 percent from inside the 3-point line.
Right below Heier on the scoring list is Hodenfield at 15.6 points per game.
Gillund is Ray's top rebounder, averaging 9.6 per contest while chipping in 10.3 points per game.
"Overall, the whole team chemistry is working so well together," Kelli Heier said. "They all want to do their role and do what they can to help the team."
While Heier, Hodenfield and Gillund have proven they can put points on the board, their defense has been just as important to the team's success. The Jays have limited opponents to 37 points per game this season and held Tioga to just 11 in Ray's district-opening win.
Hodenfield and junior guard Taylor Nelson lead the defense with 3.3 steals per contest. The Jays have not allowed an opponent to score more than 53 points this season and surrendered just 33 combined points in their last two games.
While the seven-game winning streak to start the season is nice, the Jays have their sights set on earning the No. 1 seed in the district tournament and winning the postseason crown, which currently belongs to Trinity Christian.
Ray earned the No. 3 seed in last year's district tournament and defeated Tioga in a region qualifier before losing its Region 8 tournament opener to Parshall.
- Mike Kraft
Braves off to undefeated start
With the Parshall girls basketball team playing in a stacked Region 8 that includes defending region champion and fifth-ranked New Town, it's easy to lose sight of the season the Braves are having.
Parshall is currently 9-0, won its District 15 opener against Mandaree by 58 points and has won all of its games by double digits. The Braves' closest game so far this season was an 11-point victory against Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky, a team Parshall lost to by two points last season.
Sophomore Cheyenne Packineau leads the Braves in scoring and rebounding and registered a double-double against TL-M-M with 17 points and 12 boards. The 6-foot center tallied a game-high 20 points in a 59-43 victory over Kenmare on Jan. 8.
Despite the unblemished record, Parshall once again did not receive any votes in the latest Class B girls basketball poll. Part of the reason may be the Braves' light schedule to date. Parshall has played just two teams that are .500 or better.
Nonetheless, the Braves have beaten every team they've faced this season and their remaining schedule will shed some light on how good they truly are. Parshall still has games against Trenton (7-1), Ray (7-0), New Town (7-1), Stanley (5-2), top-ranked Bishop Ryan (6-0) and Watford City (6-2).
If Parshall wants to advance to the state tournament, it will have to find a way to beat New Town. The Braves lost all three matchups against the Eagles last season, including losses in the district and region championship games.
- Mike Kraft