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Trinity aims start where the team left off

Press File Photo Dickinson Trinity senior guard Katelyn Grinsteinner, front, goes up for a layup against Hazen during a District 14 game last year on Jan. 17 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

The Dickinson Trinity girls basketball team came within one half of reaching the North Dakota Class B state basketball tournament last year.

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Going into halftime of last year’s Region 7 championship game, Trinity and Beach were tied at 22.

However, in the second half, the Buccaneers ran away from the Titans for their fourth consecutive Region 7 title.

“They know that they can compete and this group really dedicated themselves in the summer,” Trinity head coach Alysia Barman said. “Losing the regional championship game left some feelings of maybe changing the outcome. They just want to have a great season.”

The added reassurance coming into this season is the team didn’t lose any varsity players to graduation.

Last year, the Titans relied on a roster chock full of juniors and freshmen. Those players are now seniors and sophomores.

“It’s a really good, because we played with each other all of last year,” Trinity senior guard Rachel Jahner said. “We have that chemistry. We worked hard throughout the summer and in practice every day to get better.

“Last year was definitely a learning year, but we finished pretty well and we are just looking to continue on that.”

Jahner and senior guard Katelyn Grinsteinner are the Titans’ two captains for the second straight year. Jahner averaged 11.2 points per game during the regular season, while Grinsteinner supplied 9.8 points.

Barman said it’s great to have the two returning captains who not only lead the team in points, but help the younger players get accustomed to the varsity level.

“Rachel does so many great things for us offensively — getting the ball down the floor, seeing the floor and she’s a great shooter,” Barman said. “Katelyn has a lot of offensive skills, but she’s one of the best defensive players in the region. Night-in and night-out, we ask her to shut down the other team’s best player. She always steps up and she always performs.”

The Titans’ other two returning seniors are forwards Jillian Stockert and Molly Schweitzer. Barman said everything the team accomplishes is helped through them.

“The one thing that has stood out to me this year and any of my other years of coaching here is the senior leadership,” Barman said. “We have never had such strong senior leadership. We’ve had strong individual leaders in the past. … They are pushing the younger kids and they’ve really taken ownership of this team. They’ve decided it’s their team and that’s what I’ve tried to stress with them, because it’s their team and they need to be proud of what they accomplished.”

Trinity’s four returning sophomores with varsity experience are guards Madison Jahner and Kennedy Keator, center Brianna Soehren and forward Alanna Sickler. All four players started at least one varsity game last season and Sickler was named an all-District 14 player after supplying nine points per game.

The Titans will also mix in three first-year varsity players: junior Emily Spradley, freshman Abby Jones and eighth-grader Jordie McNeilly.

Though many of the sophomores have experience playing at the varsity level, Barman said she’s not worried about how her girls play — it’s the mental aspect.

“The biggest thing with the sophomores that we are trying to stress is we can’t focus on who is in the starting lineup, because the starting lineup is going to have to change depending on who we are playing,” she said. “That’s the biggest mental thing that they are going to have to get over.”

The Titans, which finished with an 18-6 overall record, have high expectations for this season. Trinity averaged 51.8 points per game and allowed 43.7 last season, one of the best differentials in Region 7.

With the new Region 7 Tournament format eliminating the district play, Barman said it will be easier to judge the new format after the first year. However, she knows each is going to be playing their best throughout the course of the season.

“It’s hard to say when you haven’t experienced it yet,” she said. “You definitely have to show up every single night. You got to try and prepare yourself to finish with the highest seed possible. It’s going to be different not having the first district tournament games. It’s going to be a fun regional, because of the quality teams. It will be easier to see the pros and cons after we live through it a year.”