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West Fargo's new coach likes high-tempo game

Alyssa Hummel defends against Aryelle Jones during a recent girls basketball practice. David Samson/The Forum1 / 2
Barb Metcalf takes over the helm of the West Fargo girls basketball program. David Samson/The Forum2 / 2

It's much too early in the season to tell if the Packer girls basketball team has the talent to return to the state tournament for the first time in three years. It's very clear, however, that changes are in order with a new head coach.

Barb Metcalf, who coached freshman girls basketball the last two seasons, takes over the varsity team after the departure of Lynette Mund. Metcalf endorses a high-tempo, high octane brand of basketball that will have the Packers running the court, playing full press defense and then running the court some more.

"The kids right now are learning a new system, and I think they're doing very well with it," said Metcalf. "We're teaching different drills that go along with the offense we'll be running."

A majority of the players recently finished playing volleyball - a sport that requires a different type of conditioning and not nearly as much running.

"We're going to be getting up and down the court and trying to get some intensity into practice," said Metcalf. "We do an aggressive style of drill, and the kids seem to like it. They seem to be comfortable with an up-tempo game."

Likely starting point guard Katelyn Holland, a sophomore, can attest to the new style of basketball the Packers will be playing this season. Holland said practices involve a whole lot of conditioning.

"We usually run really good, hard practices," she said. "We get in great shape through drills and go over all the things we need to know."

West Fargo finished with a 6-15 overall record and was the only EDC team without an all-conference player last year. The team's top eight scorers averaged between 5.8 and 6.9 points-per-game, including four players who return for their senior seasons. Metcalf said this team will have its offensive leaders, but she's not sure who just yet. The coach said she is comfortable with any of the 14 players who made the varsity roster taking the court.

Metcalf is also careful not to reveal her starting lineup in an effort to keep early season opponents guessing. Holland, who saw little varsity action last year, will be the likely starter at point guard. Other point guards include senior transfer student Jessica Woodbury and sophomore Carissa Becher.

Other guard candidates include senior Jessie Gust (6.8 points-per-game, 2.3 rebounds-per-game last season) and Becher. Metcalf said seniors Arielle Jones (6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Blake Selisker (6.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) are able to play the three spot. Other forwards include juniors Jenna Green and Courtney Voeller and senior Miranda Mars. West Fargo's only true post player remains senior center Alyssa Hummel (6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Jones, Selisker and Hummel were regular starters last season, while Gust was also a varsity regular.

The Packers haven't had a reliable scorer since 2007 graduate Mary Michael Vance. Metcalf said there are three or four players that can score in double digits on any given night.

"We have that ability," said the coach. "But what's kind of nice is that one person isn't going to have to score 20-30 points. It doesn't mean we can't have a kid that can consistently score though."

Metcalf amassed a 26-44 record as the head girls basketball coach at Fargo Shanley from 2003-06. In 2004 Metcalf led a Deacon team that finished last in the EDC to a fourth place finish in the state tournament.

Packer fans would surely welcome similar success for their team this season.

"We lost a lot of seniors from last year's team, but it should be a good year for us," said Holland. "We have a lot of talent on the team. We're going to be playing a different style, and we should do really well this season."