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Last week a first for DSU's Henningsgard

Before each game, a "good luck" was exchanged. After, more pleasantries about the way they guarded each other. But during, while family members looked on in custom shirts with both a Blue Hawk and a Viking logo, the Dickinson State point guard sa...

Taylor Henningsgard (left) dribbles past her sister, Kennedy of Valley City State, on Jan. 20 at Scott Gymnasium. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)
Taylor Henningsgard (left) dribbles past her sister, Kennedy of Valley City State, on Jan. 20 at Scott Gymnasium. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)

Before each game, a "good luck" was exchanged.

After, more pleasantries about the way they guarded each other.

But during, while family members looked on in custom shirts with both a Blue Hawk and a Viking logo, the Dickinson State point guard said it was simple enough. It was just basketball.

Twice last week, Taylor Henningsgard squared off with her younger sister, Kennedy, a member of Valley City State.

Both times, Taylor and the Blue Hawks ended up getting the better of her younger sister and the Vikings.

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It was the first time-besides practice, maybe-that either had played each other head-to-head.

From that point, at least, when Kennedy's name was called in the starting lineup for a different team, it was a little strange, said the point guard.

"The pregame stuff was a little different, when I saw her coming out of the starting lineup not on my team, otherwise, you try to just treat it like basketball. It was a different feeling. I think we'd both say that," Taylor said. "We didn't really want to make too much of it. It's not like we smack talked or anything. Even though some little birdie told me to," she continued, gesturing toward a smiling coach Mark Graupe.

Between youth leagues, junior varsity and varsity, Taylor estimated the two spent about eight seasons of basketball on the same team.

There was also a fruitful year together at Lake Region State College, before Taylor chose Dickinson State for the 2015-16 year.

A year later, when Kennedy's time at LRSC was up, Graupe lightly recruited her, but, when push came to shove, didn't have the space or the money to offer her a scholarship.

"She was a junior college all-American honorable mention, Kennedy was, but I couldn't offer her anything. My hands were tied because I didn't have money," he said. "Absolutely, I would have recruited her. And she did visit here. She made a visit, but I just-and there's nothing wrong, Valley City is a great program and their coach does a nice job-but there's no question I wish we could have got her, but like I said, my hands were tied."

When it became clear Kennedy wouldn't end up at Dickinson State, Taylor noted, the possibility of squaring off like they did last Monday and Friday became pretty high.

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"I kind of knew it would come down to me being on her team or playing against her, because I knew who was recruiting her and we played pretty much every team," she said. "We both had a successful season at Lake Region so it was a good way to go out. It was certainly a new experience, playing against each other. It was kind of cool."

Both played over 30 minutes in both games against each other, with Taylor averaging 18 points and Kennedy averaging 10.5 points.

Up a spot

After sweeping the weekend, Dickinson State women's basketball (16-5, 9-1 NSAA) moved up a single spot from No. 24 in the NAIA Division II Coaches' Top 25 poll to No. 23.

The Blue Hawks have Viterbo at home this Friday, followed by Mayville State on Saturday, also at Scott Gymnasium.

From there, they have four more conference games, including a Feb. 17 showdown with Jamestown, which currently holds a one-game lead in the North Star standings.

"We're setting a mini goal, we've got to sweep this weekend," Graupe said. "Cause then, after this weekend, there's just not a lot left. Only four conference games after this weekend, so gotta sweep this weekend, then we'll be sitting pretty good."

Men still on outside looking in

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The Dickinson State men (16-7, 8-2 NSAA), despite also sweeping the weekend against Valley City State and Waldorf, didn't crack the top 25 of the latest NAIA Division II poll.

The Blue Hawks were one of the 12 teams that received votes but were left out of the official poll.

North Star contemporary Bellevue, which has a worse overall and conference record, and also lost to Dickinson State in their one matchup this year, jumped from No. 22 to No. 19.

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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