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Mustangs girls basketball motivated to make first state tournament

The West Fargo Sheyenne Mustangs girls team hits the gym to start the winter campaign. David Samson / The Pioneer1 / 5
West Fargo Sheyenne head girls basketball coach Brent Hintz gives instruction during a recent practice at Sheyenne High School. David Samson / The Pioneer2 / 5
Maggie Manson signals a play during a recent practice at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. David Samson / The Pioneer3 / 5
Shelby Weber heads up the court during a recent practice at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. David Samson / The Pioneer4 / 5
Kierra Freih takes aim during a recent practice at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. David Samson / The Pioneer5 / 5

Kierra Freih remembers going back to the locker room defeated.

The West Fargo Sheyenne girls basketball team was on the cusp of making its first Class A state tournament appearance but instead, the Mustangs watched Wahpeton celebrate victory in their East Region tournament state-qualifying game. Freih never wants to go back to the locker room with the same feeling ever again.

Freih will be a senior for this year's Mustangs team which has aspirations of making its first ever state tournament since forming the program.

"You have to get through some of the hardships to get to the really good stuff," Freih said. "Losing last year, it just makes us that much more hungry to win this year."

Sheyenne head coach Brent Hintz tried to challenge the Mustangs this summer in camps and tournaments. He's talked to his team about the loss that ended their season last year, but he feels he doesn't even have to bring it up. He already knows they're motivated to get things right this time around.

University of North Dakota commit Maggie Manson averaged 14.5 points and 2.6 steals per game. The 5-foot-8 junior guard added 2.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and totaled 71 3-pointers last season.

Freih averaged 13.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season. Yasmina Dokara totaled 8.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a block per game while Shelby Weber added 2.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game last year.

"We were almost there last year," Manson said. "That's driving us this year to have that goal in mind to finally get past that game and to go on to the state tournament."

The Mustangs were young last year, but Hintz said they still will be young this season. Hintz said the postseason experience of last season and past seasons should lead to the Mustangs to taking another step up.

"With youth comes a higher ceiling," Hintz said. "We are really excited about the potential this team can have because there's so much room for improvement."

The Mustangs don't have much size or height compared to other teams, Hintz said, but their length and athleticism should allow them to play full-court games and to dictate a fast-paced tempo.

Freih said the Mustangs should be fast this season. She hopes to speed the game up even more with faster practices.

"I think we're in a really good spot," Freih said. "We need to do things other teams don't do. We've got to put in the hours and the time."

Manson said the Mustangs have started practices strong and have shown they've grown over the offseason. Through open gyms, weight training and conditioning runs, Manson said the Mustangs have developed chemistry. She's also grown more confident in her team's potential.

"I think the possibilities are endless," Manson said. "We can set our goals really high."

West Fargo Sheyenne Mustangs girls basketball

Coach: Brent Hintz (fourth year)

Last year's finish: 11-14 record, lost in East Region tournament state-qualifying game

Who's gone: Katelyn Ask, Annie McIntosh

Key returners: Kierra Freih, Sr., F; Yasmina Dokara, Jr., F; Maggie Manson, Jr., G; Shelby Weber, Jr., G.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

(701) 451-5715