No matter how the West Fargo girls basketball team started the season, it's their heart that will help carry them the rest of the way.
"I always tell them that they have the heart of a champion," said Barb Metcalf, Packers girls basketball coach. "You show me a girls team that can get knocked down as many times as they have and still beat a team like North."
The Packers (2-6 EDC, 4-9) picked up a jolt Tuesday, Feb. 2, by defeating Moorhead 73-70. They used that momentum Saturday to defeat the No. 3 Spartans 59-54 in a huge East Region upset.
"We just kind of played the same game against North as we did against Moorhead.... We played hard," Metcalf said. "It was a real team effort."
West Fargo took a two-point lead into the second half and kept rolling through the rest of the game. Three Packers put up double-digit points. Finishing with a team-high 22 was West Fargo's Katelyn Holland, who dropped three tres and went 7-of-11 from the line. Holland is averaging 16.7 points per game and is at 68.7 percent for free throws. Teammates Jenna Green picked up 11 points while Erin Krogh had 10.
The Spartans (6-3, 10-4) were led by Alyssa Dehne's 26 points.
Keying the Packers' win was some strong defense led by senior Jenna Green.
"Green played one of the smartest defensive games all year," Metcalf said. "Her positioning was huge for us. She's kind of the nuts and bolts of the team when it comes to smarts on the court."
And Metcalf knows standings aren't everything: every team is 0-0 in the postseason.
"I always talk to them about having a tri-season," she said. "In the early part you give young kids an opportunity to play. Then, you try to develop chemistry...and now we're at that third trimester and we're starting to see some real chemistry."
One thing is certain for West Fargo: it's do-or-die time. All five of their final games are against East Region opponents. The most recent was Tuesday against No. 5 Fargo Shanley (4-5, 6-7), however, results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. The Packers play Devils Lake (6-3, 9-5) in West Fargo at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.
Whatever the remainder of the season has in store, the Packers will be ready. With a battle-hardened squad, the team has matured, Metcalf said. "They're finishing strong now, and that comes with experience."