Fargo Shanley's Sarah Jacobson and Emily Dietz battle for a rebound against Grand Forks Red River's Hannah Arason Saturday, March 5, 2016, during the EDC title game at West Fargo Sheyenne.David Samson / The Forum
WEST FARGO --The Fargo Shanley Deacons girls basketball team won its 67th straight game Saturday, and it happened to be in the North Dakota Class A, East Region title game against Grand Forks Red River at Sheyenne High School.
The Deacons (24-0) overwhelmed the Roughriders (20-4) in the second half and the Roughriders fell 59-41.
"I think we knew that from the start we were gonna come out hard and play tough,"Shanley senior forward Lauren Rotunda said. "We knew it wouldn't be an easy battle. We knew Red River would come out and want it just as bad as we did, but I thought when we started getting the flow of the offense and playing well as a team, that we were going to start coming together very well."
The Deacons started the game on an 11-0 run before Red River's Allison Hillebrand hit a 3-pointer to get the Roughriders on the scoreboard. Red River battled back in the first half, going on a 9-2 run to cut Shanley's lead to one.
The Deacons—led by Rotunda, who finished the game with 17 points, and Annie Swenson, who had 15 points—rebounded later in the half, ending with a 33-22 halftime lead. Roughriders coach Kent Ripplinger said his team tried to take Deacons guard and Eastern Dakota Conference senior of the year Sarah Jacobson out of the game, but Jacobson's teammates were more than able to make up the offensive production.
"Sarah made the right decisions. She ran the offense, got it down for us every time, got it in the hands of people that were open," Shanley head coach Tim Jacobson said. "She could have taken more shots. She knew that finding her open teammates, good things would happen."
Jacobson finished with six points.
"I thought we did a nice job trying to contain Sarah, but they got so many weapons that you can't cover 'em all, and they showed that tonight," Ripplinger said.
The Roughriders also struggled to drive inside with Rotunda, junior Emily Dietz and sophomore Caira Berg plugging the middle. The Roughriders scored 29 of their 41 points from the 3-point line or at the free-throw line.
"We knew what Red River wanted to do, and we knew that we had to get down into the blocks and stop their penetration and expect the drive, be ready for the shot. And we got there and we were able to stop them," Rotunda said.
The Deacons will take their win streak into state, but Tim Jacobson and his team are aware of the target on their backs. Rotunda said they can't overlook anyone, especially after the Deacons were almost upset by the East Region's No. 5 seed Wahpeton on Friday.
To no one's surprise, Sarah Jacobson was named the EDC's outstanding senior athlete and she joined her teammates Dietz and Rotunda in being named to the All-East Region team. Tim Jacobson was named EDC coach of the year.
"(Sarah) has worked very hard for that, constantly works at it, well-deserving, real proud of her and happy that she got it," Tim Jacobson said. "Happy for the ones that are all-conference players, too, like Lauren and Emily Dietz."