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Midgets hope to pick up where they left off

Last season, the Dickinson High girls basketball team squeaked into the West Region tournament, defeating Williston 54-35 in the regional play-in game.

Dickinson sophomore guard Kendryn Bullinger pressures Bismarck junior guard Maddy Steckler in the backcourt during a contest on Tuesday, Jan. 23 from DHS Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson sophomore guard Kendryn Bullinger pressures Bismarck junior guard Maddy Steckler in the backcourt during a contest on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from DHS Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

Last season, the Dickinson High girls basketball team squeaked into the West Region tournament, defeating Williston 54-35 in the regional play-in game.

While the Midgets lost the WDA quarterfinal to the top-seeded and eventual state champion Bismarck Century, they closed out their season with an exciting contest against Jamestown.

While the team never led, Dickinson High kept pace with the Blue Jays, coming within two points with two minutes remaining before falling 65-60.

After a winter of constant improvement, the Midgets are hoping to pick up where they left off and get even better.

"I'm feeling really good about the team this year," head coach James Hayden said. "I think we got a lot of key returners coming back this season that can bring a lot of experience and leadership on or off the floor. We've been working heavily on defense, defensive responsibilities, how to guard ball screens ... I think there's a level of clarity that's there this year that maybe wasn't there last year, so I feel really confident with the defensive side of things right now."

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Defensively, the Midgets made strides last season, but still showed room for improvement, allowing 57.8 points per game, while collecting a WDA-low 1.7 blocks per game. The team averaged 10.6 steals per game, many of which came from senior Gabrielle Jung. Still, despite her team-high 65 snags, the Midgets couldn't always capitalize.

Jung, who averaged 14.8 points per game, was the fourth best scorer in the WDA and is setting ever higher expectations of herself ahead of her senior season, aiming for 18-19 points per game.

"I would describe myself as a leader, but also somewhat has a follower," Jung said. "I look up to Audrey (Rodakowski) and Peyton (Selle) for my post moves and all that stuff during games. I definitely consider myself a leader on the team and have a lot of the younger players on the team look up to me."

The other seniors on the squad are Lauren Jorda and Addie Kuehl.

Jorda, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the fall, will be on the roster but will not be able to compete.

"Lauren won't be able to play this season, but she is still a huge piece to our team," Hayden said. "She brings an extraordinary amount of leadership and will be able to help our younger girls fit right in to everything that we do."

Also putting up big numbers for the girls in orange and black is junior guard Peyton Selle, who last year, averaged 9.1 ppg, while leading the team with 146 rebounds and 52 assists. She also added 42 steals and took a team-high 95 shots from the foul line, sinking 48 of her attempts.

As a sophomore, forward Audrey Rodakowski began settling in at post, using her length to score 161 points over 22 games. Hayden expects she'll really come into form this season.

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"They're both athletic, physical long" Hayden said of Rodakowski and Selle. "They have a really good presence in the lane. Obviously looking for a lot out of them as well."

Surrounding the main scorers are a handful of returning role players, including junior Madison Lindley, Taylor Nelson and point guard Kendryn Bullinger, who Hayden said 'handles the ball really well' and 'doesn't make many mistakes.' "

The Midgets open their season at home on Tuesday, Dec. 4, against the Patriots at 5:45 p.m.

"Honestly ... I think we have picked up right where we left off," Hayden said. "Our girls, in terms of knowing how to make the right reads within the offense, they're doing that. They're passing really well, the chemistry is there. Defensively they're really intense and they're aggressive and obviously we hope to continue to build on that."

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