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New England playing, winning together

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald New England junior forward Taylor Hewson, left, dribbles against a Killdeer defender during the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 20 in Killdeer.

The New England girls basketball team began its season with a pair of losses.

However, ever since, the Tigers haven’t experienced much losing.

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New England has won 10 of its last 11 games and sits second in Region 7 with a 5-1 record and 11-3 overall.

“We are very pleased about how things are going,” New England head coach Jason Jung said. “We started out the year a little rough. ... Things are really progressing from a team-chemistry and teamwork standpoint. In the beginning of the year, I don’t know if it was volleyball hangover or everyone getting used to everybody in the basketball sense, but it seems like lately things have really came together and the girls are really supporting each other.”

In 13 games, the Tigers are scoring 49.8 points per game while allowing 40.1. New England is coming out on the winning end of close games and receiving contributions up and down the lineup along the way.

Senior forward Hannah Nordby leads New England with 12.4 points per game while senior guard Gabbi Hanson supplies 11.1. Junior guard Taylor Hewson is averaging 7.2, 6-foot-1 senior forward Ashley Plaggemeyer chips in 7.1 points and sophomore guard Jenna Ehlis, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury last year, posts 6.3 points a game.

“It seems like every night we have a different person leading our team in scoring,” Jung said. “I know Gabbi and Hannah are consistently up there in double figures, but it seems like we have a lot of weapons on offense. The girls are starting to distribute the ball a lot better to each other. That’s going to make us a tough team to handle, because (other teams) can’t focus on one or two players.”

Though the Tigers are sitting in a good position in the Region 7 standings at this point, they have five region games left, including No. 5-ranked Beach and Dickinson Trinity.

Hanson knows they can’t let up.

“We definitely have to stay on our A game,” she said. “We have the toughest games coming up in the next two weeks. It’s awesome to have those big games right at the end to see where we stand with the top teams in the region.”

Jung said playing 11 Region 7 games this season — instead of the five district games as in the past — has helped keep everyone focused. The Tigers know they have to be at their best every game.

Next up is a non-region game traveling to Trenton-Trinity Christian at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“The kids know that every game in the region is important,” Jung said. “You can’t have an off night or down night, because in our region someone will come up and beat you. Our region is also so competitive. It adds a little more meaning to the region games, it makes it more fun and more interesting.”

Dickinson closes out season with Williston There have been times when the Dickinson High boys hockey team played with the best teams in the state.

But, there have also been times when the Midgets have had less-than-favorable performances.

The season has been a roller coaster with the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

“All year we’ve been looking for consistency,” Dickinson head coach Dallas Kuntz said. “Consistency is key. If you go back through the season, a lot of big wins were followed by disappointing losses.”

The Midgets close out their regular season by traveling to Williston for a West Region game at 6 p.m. Saturday. They defeated the Coyotes 5-2 in their season opener Nov. 19. Dickinson is 9-11 overall and 5-10 in the West.

After the game against Williston on Saturday, the Midgets have four days left before traveling to Minot for the West Region Tournament. Dickinson will play either Bismarck Century or Bottineau-Rugby in the first round. The Midgets defeated both teams during the regular season.

“Throughout the year, every West Region game is important,” Kuntz said. “The closer you get to WDA, you like to see your team kind of peaking and all your players playing at the high level.”