Lauren Rotunda is one of Shanley's top players this season. An all-state first team selection her junior year, Rotunda has helped the Deacons to win 67 straight games over the last three seasons. David Samson / The Forum
FARGO – The first time Lauren Rotunda heard her name announced in Fargo Shanley's girls basketball starting varsity lineup was Jan. 3, 2014.
Rotunda – a 6-foot senior all-state forward and North Dakota Miss Basketball finalist – shined in her debut as a starter, scoring 16 points against Fargo South. She never lost her starting job and has helped the Deacons win 67 straight games heading into Thursday's North Dakota Class A state tournament at the Bismarck Event Center.
"It was a big opportunity for me to try and prove myself," Rotunda said of the first start. "I remember being very nervous because it was such a big thing. My teammates and coaches supported me through it, and that made it easy for me to fit into the game. I didn't know where my career would take me at that point, but I had some high hopes for it. I'm glad it has been able to come to this."
Shanley head coach Tim Jacobson said he remembers first recognizing Rotunda's potential during intrasquad scrimmages her sophomore season.
"We put her out there that night, and she confirmed what we knew she would be and that is an integral part to our success," Jacobson said.
Rotunda, who is signed to play basketball at the University of Mary, averages 14.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for the No. 1-ranked Deacons. She also is closing in on 1,000 career points—a milestone she'll likely surpass in Shanley's quarterfinal game against Minot at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center's Exhibit Hall.
"For the seniors, this is our last three games, so we know we have to come out and play our hardest," said Rotunda, who also plays softball for the Deacons.
"Lauren brings a lot offensively and defensively to our team," senior teammate Sarah Jacobson said. "She can hit the 3 when she is open, she can pull up and she can drive to the basket. Defensively, she disrupts a lot of shots with her length and she rebounds very well."
Rotunda said she didn't get serious about basketball until middle school and as each year has passed her devotion has grown. Her signature left-handed shot has been honed during countless open gyms. Rotunda said in the offseason she tries to block an hour per day to go to Courts Plus to shoot.
Shanley has a chance to become just the third Class A team in state history ever to win three or more state titles in a row this weekend.
"We've had some great highlights," Rotunda said. "The way that we have been able to play together and accomplish what we have already are some memories I'll never forget."