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Schnepf: Shanley's amazing girls basketball winning streak continues

Friday, February 26, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Administration
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Junior forward Lauren Rotunda has helped top-ranked Fargo Shanley to 3-0 start to the 2014-15 season. Forum file photo


FARGO – It seems so long ago, but Lauren Rotunda remembers the last time Fargo Shanley lost a girls basketball game. It was Jan. 21, 2014.

"After we lost that game, I remember we were telling ourselves we were not going to lose to West Fargo again," Rotunda said, referring to the 56-43 home loss to West Fargo.

Little did Rotunda and her Shanley teammates realize was that they would not lose to anyone again. Hard to imagine. But after Shanley posted a 50-36 home win over Fargo Davies Thursday night, its winning streak reached 64—setting a new record for North Dakota girls basketball.

"That's crazy," said Rotunda, now one of five seniors on this year's Shanley team.

There is a lot of craziness involved with this streak.

For starters, it breaks the previous record of 63 straight set by Minot Ryan. As fate would have it, that streak ended on Dec. 27, 2014 when Shanley beat Ryan 65-53 in a game played in Bismarck.

What's even crazier is how much Shanley has dominated opponents during this streak. The Deacons have won all these games by an average score of 71-43.

This season—in which the Deacons will take a 21-0 record into postseason play—the average score is 78-42. They have beaten one opponent by 60 or more points, five by 50 or more, six by 40 or more. No team this season has come within single digits of the Deacons—who during the entire streak have allowed only seven single-digit wins.

Annie Swenson, another senior, remembers one of those single-digit wins. It was last year's 53-48 win over Grand Forks Red River in a game in which Shanley was trailing by 10 points. That was until Swenson, a seldom-used reserve, came off the bench and scored 10 points in two minutes to spark another victory.

"That was the best feeling I ever had playing basketball," Swenson said.

The feeling for the Shanley girls Thursday night was a sense of relief. All that talk of setting the record is now done. It wasn't easy ignoring it and focusing on the next opponent.

This isn't the first distraction—if you want to call it that—that Shanley has had to deal with this season. Earlier, senior guard Sarah Jacobson—who has committed to play at North Dakota State—became the Class A girls all-time leading scorer.

Shanley head coach Tim Jacobson, who has been coaching for more than three decades, knows how tough it all can be. The 1985 Finley (N.D.) girls basketball team he coached to a Class B state championship had two losses. The 1997 and 1998 Shanley boys teams that won state titles could not go unbeaten, each losing three games.

"Every night you have to show up and play ... you can't have off nights," Jacobson said. "That's why it's been such a great ride. It is something very special. It may not happen again as long as I'm alive."

Now, Shanley can devote all of its attention on winning a third straight state championship.

To put this streak in perspective, the longest winning streak in the NBA is 33—set by the Lakers during the 1971-72 season. Shanley's streak equals the one the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team had from 1936 to 1972. And its 13 wins better than the NCAA Division II women's record of 51 straight set by the Washburn (Kan.) in 2005-2006 and seven wins better than the Division II men's record of 57 set by Winona State (Minn.) in 2006-2007.

Of course, Shanley has a ways to go to equal the 88 straight UCLA's men's basketball team won from 1971 to 1974 or the 90 straight the UConn women's basketball team won from 2008 to 2010.

And they have a long ways to go to reach the nation's high school girls record of 218 set by a team from Baskin, La., from 1948 to 1953.

"We'll work on it," Swenson said with a smile.

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