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Tigers on the prowl for top regional spot

After a nine-year stint of coaching the New England girls basketball team, Jason Jung resigned from his position but soon learned he couldn't stay away. After a three-year hiatus, Jung is back and looking to help the Tigers improve.

New England sophomore guard Molly Rayhorn evades Dickinson Trinity senior guard Megan Krebs on Monday, Feb 3, from the Knight of Columbus Activities Center. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
New England junior guard Molly Rayhorn evades Dickinson Trinity senior guard Megan Krebs on Monday, Feb 3, from the Knight of Columbus Activities Center. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

After a nine-year stint of coaching the New England girls basketball team, Jason Jung resigned from his position but soon learned he couldn't stay away. After a three-year hiatus, Jung is back and looking to help the Tigers improve.

"It's been very exciting to come back. I didn't realize I had missed basketball coaching as much as I did. It's been great to be back, very exciting to be around the kids," Jung said. "Coming back, we have such a great group of girls, nice kids; they get along with each other. We have great team chemistry, and I feel that's going to take us a long way this year."

Following last season, the Tigers lost leadership and experience in Tori Jalbert and lost height in graduates Paige Ehlis, Jordan Kass and six-footer Hailee Kuske, but Jung isn't too worried, as he wants to utilize his team's speed.

"Our group of girls is very athletic. We have athletes on this team," he said. "These girls like to compete, so we want to put pressure on teams and get out and run the floor, push the ball up the floor to try to get some easier shots. I feel like our athleticism and our speed, that's going to be the style of basketball that's going to fit us this year. The kids seem to be enjoying this style of basketball. It's a little more fun for them. We're getting a lot more shots off. All the kids are getting involved."

While there are no players on the roster that Jung coached when he was last behind the varsity bench, he did lead the group of seniors on the court when they were in fifth and sixth grade. Those seniors are Elizabeth Kaufman and Takoda Westling.

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In the season opener against 2018 Class B state champion Grant County, the Tigers fell 54-37, but Kaufman had a good individual performance, netting a team-high 13 points.

"She's definitely our leader," Jung said of Kaufman. "She's been playing (varsity) since she was a freshman and she's just, fundamentally, she's so sound and she's so confident and she's really expanded her game this year with her outside shooting."

Also highlighting the roster is junior Shelley Kathrein, whom Jung expects to play a big role offensively with what he called an "impressive" jumpshot.

Junior Molly Rayhorn, who scored eight points in the season opener, will be an efficient outside shooter, as well as a top defender for the Tigers.

"Where she shines is on the defensive end," Jung said. "She's got good length. She gets a lot of deflections and she's huge for us defensively. She's very consistent on both ends of the floor."

Last winter, under head coach Jordyn Mason, New England went 14-9 overall, but just 6-5 against Region 7 opponents.

After making it past the first round of the tournament with a 43-28 victory over Mott-Regent, New England fell 48-38 to Bowman County in the quarterfinals. The Tigers are aiming for a better showing this season.

"It seems like our region is really wide open. The middle teams, anywhere from three to 10, seem to be very even and there are a lot of 50-50 games, which are going to be very important," Jung said. "The goal for us is to get into one of the top-four seeds, to get a bye past the first round of the regional tournament. Possibly, a more realistic goal is to get a home play-in game ... to advance to the first day of the regional tournament and let the chips fall where they may."

Related Topics: NEW ENGLAND TIGERS
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