Call it one last hurrah.
The Watford City Wolves qualified for the Class B girls basketball state tournament for the third year in a row with an 81-67 victory over Mandaree last Thursday night in the Region 8 championship game. Watford City will make its 16th appearance in the Class B state tournament this weekend in Minot. It will also be its last – for the time being.
The school will join the Class A ranks this fall, and girls basketball coach Cary Veis said the Wolves are determined to make this appearance a memorable one.
"Playing in the state tournament is always an exciting time for the team, the school and the community," Veis said. "Everyone hopes to do well there, and since this will be our last time in Class B basketball for awhile we would like to go out on a high note. We definitely want to leave a mark."
The Wolves, 15-10, had a see-saw regular season, finishing 9-10 and closing out their schedule with a 64-29 loss to No. 1-ranked Shiloh Christian on Feb. 3. However, Watford City is 6-0 in the postseason, averaging 66 points per game.
“We had some ups and downs, but we're headed into the state tournament on a roll," Veis said. "All season long we've taken a 'one practice, one game at a time' approach. The goal from the start was to improve each week and play our best basketball at tournament time. We played very well in the district and region tournaments and we're hoping to keep the momentum going at state."
Watford City lost all-state center Mackenzie Sparby to graduation, but most of its roster has state tournament experience. Avery Sundeen (14.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.4 steals per game), Lindsay Peterson (10.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.1 spg), Emma Mogen (10.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.6 apg, 3.6 spg), Ashley Holen (9.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Sydney Faller (6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Iida Lehto (3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and Sydney Sanford (2.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg) played on a 2016-17 Wolves team that finished sixth in the final eight.
“Experience is always a plus in a big tournament. Most of our girls have state tournament experience in basketball and volleyball (fall of 2017), and some were members of our cross country team that took second in the state meet," Veis said. "They've been in lots of situations where the competition was at a very high level."
Veis said Sundeen, a 5-foot-5 senior guard, is the glue that holds everything together.
"Avery is our senior leader on and off the court," he said. "She does so much for our team. The bigger the stage the bigger she plays."
The Wolves will take on No. 1-seeded Medina-Pingree-Buchanan in today's quarterfinals at the Minot State University Dome.