Ty's Take: Parity prevalent in EDC
If anything can be said about recent North Dakota boys basketball results, it is that parity is prevalent in the Eastern Dakota Conference.
"The overall feel is the EDC has a lot of balance this year," West Fargo coach Greg Limke said. "For us, we certainly understand that we have to play well every night."
A concept, Limke said, that his team hasn't quite conquered.
"Games are pretty tight between everybody, and every night for us is going to be a grind-it-out game from start to finish," he said. "We need to come ready to play every night and, right now, we're not playing a full 36 minutes."
The Packers (5-4 EDC, 6-4) recently were jolted from the top of the EDC standings because of a three-game losing streak. They managed to right the ship last Tuesday with a 59-55 overtime win over Wahpeton, but Limke said that alone isn't enough. After all, there are two halves to every basketball game.
"We have some stretches where we're playing good ball," he said. "But we have to come out of the locker room better in the second half."
The Packers have been hot out of the gate, but can't seem to hold steam, Limke said. Still, with the season half over, there is time to finish strong.
Evidence that the tide may be turning came last Tuesday against the Wolves (4-5, 5-5). Once again, the Packers were ahead at halftime, only to watch their lead diminish in the final minutes. This time, however, they were able to pull out the victory with 10 overtime points, compared to the heart-wrenching double OT loss to Valley City on Jan. 11.
Season points leader Chase Farkas paced West Fargo's offense against Wahpeton with 19 points, which included five 3-pointers. Justin Schock picked up another double-double this season with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
But when it comes to reliability, there's one Packer who stands out.
"I think Brady Schwartz has been as consistent of a player we've had this year," Limke said. "Some other guys have had flashes of brilliance, but then you wonder where they're at."
Schwartz went 4-for-11 from the field and hit a 3-pointer to rack up 11 points against Wahpeton. For the season, the senior captain is averaging more than 10 points per game, and leads the Packers in 3-point percentage with 40.9.
And while consistency is one aspect West Fargo must work on, Limke said, another is controlling the game.
"A big key for us is rebounding the basketball; don't give up easy baskets and don't turn it over," he said.
If all their pieces can come together at the right time, the Packers will have a good chance at finishing the year at the top of their game. To see if their win over Wahpeton wasn't a fluke, West Fargo was gunning for a victory of No. 2 Fargo Shanley (6-2, 7-2) on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time.
In any case, the Packers need to get tough.
"It's always a mental game," Limke said "I think the focus and the energy has to be there, and we need to execute the game plan we've worked on.
"I don't feel we've been as consistent as we need to be. We're striving for excellence all the time and not sometimes."
West Fargo plays again Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Fargo Davies (1-7, 1-8), before hosting Central (2-5, 2-7) at 7:45 p.m. Feb. 1.
Girls basketball: West Fargo (8-1, 9-1) defeated Wahpeton 60-36 last Tuesday to remain firmly planted in the No. 1 spot of the EDC standings. It was their first win since being handed their first conference loss Jan. 15 from Fargo South. Against Wahpeton (1-7, 2-7), the Packers were led by Lexi Lennon, who was 5-for-14 from the floor with 13 points. Katelyn Holland got the double-double after amassing 12 points and 12 rebounds. Cassidy Thorson rounded out West Fargo's Top 3 with 11 points. The Packers were set to face Fargo Shanley (6-2, 8-2) on Tuesday, but results were not in by the time the Pioneer went to press. They play again at 6 p.m. Friday in a re-scheduled match against Bemidji, Minn.
Boys hockey: The EDC-leading Packers (7-3-1, 10-3-2) played just once last week, but made it count with a 6-3 victory over Devils Lake (4-3-3, 9-3-3). The last time the two teams met resulted in a 1-1 tie, so the win was a good jolt to West Fargo's confidence. This time, the Firebirds built a quick 2-goal lead to end the first half. After that, the Packers took over. Charlie Torrance got the ball rolling with a power-play goal at 5:54 in the second period. The junior would score twice more before all was said and done to earn a hat-trick. Sage Raghib scored the Packers' other two goals, while goalie Cameron Holland made 37 saves on the night. West Fargo was slated to face Grand Forks Central (4-1-2, 8-3-2) on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time. They play again at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Jamestown (5-5-1, 6-7-1).
Girls hockey: West Fargo added to their conference lead with three straight wins last week. The Packers (13-1-0, 14-1-0) started with a close 3-2 victory over Fargo North on Tuesday, before shutting out Mandan 7-0 on Friday, and Dickinson 14-0 on Saturday. West Fargo hosted Fergus Falls, Minn., on Tuesday, but results were not in by press time. The Packers play again Friday, hosting Bismarck (10-2-0, 12-3-0) at 7:30 p.m.
Boys swimming: The Packers handily defeated Moorhead 139-47 last Tuesday, taking wins in every event except for the 50 freestyle and diving. Their next event is a dual Saturday at 11 a.m. in Jamestown.