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Trinity girls basketball taking on new roles, playing styles

With the graduation of four seniors that, when all were healthy, provided a bulk of Dickinson Trinity's scoring and rebounding, the Titans' girls basketball team has seen a rearrangement of roles and playing styles heading into the new season.

Dickinson Trinity junior Jordie McNeilly, left, dribbles against Carrington in the consolation semifinals of last season's Class B girls state tournament on March 4 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity junior Jordie McNeilly, left, dribbles against Carrington in the consolation semifinals of last season's Class B girls state tournament on March 4 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

With the graduation of four seniors that, when all were healthy, provided a bulk of Dickinson Trinity's scoring and rebounding, the Titans' girls basketball team has seen a rearrangement of roles and playing styles heading into the new season.

The Titans won't be as tall as last season, when Alanna Sickler and Brianna Soehren roamed the post, and the shooters on the outside are no longer Kennedy Keator or Madi Jahner.

But the Titans will make up for that lack of height in other ways; specifically with a deep group of outside shooters.

Still, it's a new brand of Trinity basketball this year. Now head coach Carter Fong has to determine how to best put the pieces together.

"It's a new year with a new team with different strengths, and the strengths as we see them are our depth and balance," Fong said. "We probably have more of the ability to extend a game into the full court than we have in years past, and we think that we can go to any of the girls off the bench without missing a beat. That will dictate how we play."

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With up to seven seniors potentially seeing time on this year's team, some will have more of a defined role than what they saw last season.

"We're playing a quicker game and moving the ball faster," said senior Abby Jones, who averaged 5.7 points per game last season on the strength of 40 total 3-pointers. "We have to adjust our roles, or some girls do. My role has been to shoot the ball, and I think it will still be that, just with a few additions - driving to the basket, creating more passes."

The team's other seniors - Emma Veverka, Katie Sherer, Sami Daniel, Lauren Stafford, Zoe Fath and Sarah Kerkman - will give the Titans, if nothing else, a leadership aspect of having been there and done that. Several saw minutes at the end of last season as the team finished 21-6 overall and placed seventh at the Class B girls state tournament in Grand Forks.

"I think that confidence will help in seeing how (last year's seniors) set that standard, and that we can live up to those standards too," Daniel said. "It's a new year. With losing those girls, we have our year now to see if we can live up to that bar."

According to the North Dakota Girls Hoopster preview magazine, the Region 7 coaches pegged Trinity to finish second behind Killdeer, which also returns a lot of experience and athleticism. To contend for that top spot and hold off all challengers, Trinity can't get too ahead of itself. There is still a lot of learning to be done.

"We're really going to have to focus on our goals for every game and not just the end of the season," said junior Jordie McNeilly, who averaged close to three points and three rebounds per game. "Last year we really depended on our height, so this year we'll have to depend on our speed and our defense to get some easy buckets. A lot of girls are going to have to step up, and I think we have a lot of girls that will."

At this writing, that has already been the case. In Trinity's season-opening win against Parshall on Friday, its two leading scorers were Stafford (24 points) and junior Josie Glaser (13), both of whom averaged fewer than two points per game last season.

It's those kinds of contributions that Fong hopes to see throughout the season.

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"I think on the offensive end, it will take some time to adjust to different schemes and different personnel. We're asking girls who have been role players in years past to take bigger roles and take bigger shots," Fong said. "That will come in time, but we're focused on February. We believe this team can be very competitive in our region by February."

That aspect of Titans basketball, at least, remains very much unchanged.

Dickinson Trinity Titans

Head coach: Carter Fong (third season)

2015 result: 21-6 overall, finished seventh in Class B girls state tournament

Returners: Abby Jones, Sr., Sami Daniel, Sr., Emma Veverka, Sr., Lauren Stafford, Sr., Sarah Kerkman, Sr., Zoe Fath, Sr., Jordie McNeilly, Jr., Josie Glaser, Jr., Megan Krebs, Jr.

Newcomers: Katie Sherer, Sr., Sarah Mayer, Jr., Alexa Walby, Soph., Bre Tessier, Soph., Masy Kuntz, Soph.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
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