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Patience key for girls basketball

West Fargo’s Amanda Levin lines up for a free throw in the first half against Fargo North on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at North High School. Daniel Determan / West Fargo Pioneer1 / 2
West Fargo head coach Barb Metcalf advises her squad during a timeout late in Tuesday’s game against Fargo North. Daniel Determan / West Fargo Pioneer2 / 2

They say patience is a virtue. If you want proof of that, watch the Packer girls play basketball.

With time dwindling in the second half of last Tuesday’s game against Fargo North, the Packers found themselves down 51-49.

No one panicked. No one threw up a bad shot.

The team kept to their usual pace. Cassidy Thorson hit an open shot and the Packers went into overtime, where they pulled ahead and won 59-55.

“We were really patient, and Cass hit the big shot at the end of the half,” junior forward Amanda Levin said. “We stepped it up at the end as a team. We all worked together, and that’s what we needed.”

Levin – returning to the lineup after missing the last five games due to a shoulder injury – did not miss a beat, scoring 11 points, pulling in five rebounds and playing stringent defense in the overtime victory.

“You could see that the kids were a little more comfortable having that other person in the lineup,” head coach Barb Metcalf said. “(Levin) brings so much to the team. She kind of makes our defense go with her size and agility.”

The team also got a strong performance out of senior guard Christine Baltezore, who had 17 points and six steals.

The victory was the second in four days in which the Packers needed more than 40 minutes to earn the win.

“We are learning from these overtime games and getting kids some more reps. Everyone is getting better because of it,” Metcalf said. “In the end, when we had to rely on man-to-man defense, it came through for us.”

The same formula proved effective in Friday’s game, which was a 54-39 rout of the Fargo South Bruins.

It seemed as though, with every possession, the Packers passed the ball at least one more time than the Bruins.

“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Metcalf said. “You have to know when to go and when to ‘slow.’”

While the game was close until midway through the second half, the Packers continued to pass and found the open shots – including six three-pointers from Thorson – to pull ahead late in the game.

“We were pretty cold shooting in the first half, but that shows how strong we are as a team when we can have a rough shooting night and still win,” Metcalf said. “We’re a difficult package to face.”

Thorson ended up with 23 points, eight rebounds and six steals in the game.

With just one game remaining in the regular season, the coaching staff knows exactly what the team needs to do to prepare for the playoffs: run.

“We haven’t had everyone healthy in the past five games,” Metcalf said. “That’s only going to make us stronger come tournament time, but we can always be in better shape. With the type of game that we run, we have to be as healthy as can be.”

The 16-2 Packers host the Fargo Davies Eagles tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Playoffs begin on Tuesday.