Herauf has been the rock for DickinsonWhen Dan Pender began his first season as head coach of the Dickinson High girls basketball team, he knew he had several players with little to no varsity experience and Jess Herauf.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
When Dan Pender began his first season as head coach of the Dickinson High girls basketball team, he knew he had several players with little to no varsity experience and Jess Herauf.
So it’s no wonder Dickinson has leaned heavily on the 5-foot-9 senior forward this season — and not just for point and rebounds.
In her final season, Herauf has become the team’s rock.
She’s the leader everyone on the team looks to for a spark and the person the Midgets know must be at her best if they hope to extend their season past this weekend’s West Region Tournament.
“It’s really important for us,” Midgets sophomore forward Ali Moody said of Herauf’s presence. “She’s the person that always gets us jacked before the beginning of games. She’s just been a really good leader for our team the whole season.”
Herauf was a Class A all-state second team selection as a junior and is averaging 15 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.4 assists per game this season.
She has also provided a healthy foundation for Pender to build around.
Behind Herauf, the Midgets have built a nucleus of role players.
Six different players average between 4 and 7 points per game and combine for about 20 rebounds per game.
“We’re definitely really young and inexperienced, but it’s amazing how much we’ve changed from the first game to now,” Herauf said.
Dickinson opened its season by enduring injuries to upperclassmen and suffered 10 consecutive losses.
After winning four of its last nine games, the Midgets take the No. 7 seed into the West Region Tournament and face No. 2 seed Bismarck Century at 4:30 p.m. today at the Bismarck Civic Center Exhibition Hall.
Things appear to be on the upswing, too.
Dickinson is coming off a 60-51 win over top-seeded Mandan in its regular-season finale.
Herauf said it has a lot to do with the emergence of Dickinson’s seniors and underclassmen who played very few varsity minutes when the season began.
Moody and sophomores Taylor Cooper and Rachel Schroeder have seen expanded roles as complimentary scorers behind Herauf. Junior Leslie Beaudoin is playing through a knee injury. Seniors Ally Hoffman and Katie Hewson, meanwhile, shore up the starting guard and center spots while senior Paige Biederstedt provides a sharpshooter off the bench.
“They were definitely nervous the first couple games, you could tell,” Herauf said. “There were a lot of people who had the same amount of experience. No one really played last year.”
Herauf even said that team unity, a troublesome factor last season, has been one of the Midgets’ strengths this season.
She said the seniors have been more encouraging to the underclassmen than on any team she’s been a part of and it’s making a big difference heading into the postseason.
“We’re all just like best friends,” Herauf said. “I think that’s why we feel so much more comfortable. Our team is definitely the closest we’ve ever been.”