There were big shoes to fill this season for the Mandan girls basketball team.
Lakyn Darras, a versatile 6-foot, multi-sport standout for the Braves, is filling them quite nicely.
Darras poured in 27 points Tuesday night as Mandan defeated Jamestown 68-58. Both teams entered the game with 5-3 West Region records.
"We lost some great players for sure, but we knew as a team that was a challenge we were going to face the season, but so far I think we've done a really good job," Darras said. "A lot of girls have been stepping up, like they did tonight, and I think the more we play together, we're just going to continue to get better."
Darras, who can score on the block and step outside and knock down 3-pointers, poured in 18 of her 27 points in the opening half as the Braves led 37-31 at the break.
"We knew this was a pretty big game just with Jamestown being a good team and what their record was and what our record was," Darras said. "To come out and play well like we did, it's a big win for us."
The Braves appeared poised to turn it into a blowout. After getting fouled on a 3-pointer, Amaya Ramsey went to the line and drained all three, giving Mandan a 56-39 lead with 8:30 left in the game.
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Jamestown made a late push in the last five minutes, but the Braves were never threatened in improving to 6-3 in the West Region and 7-3 overall. They trail only No. 1 Century and No. 3 Legacy in the conference. The Sabers host the Patriots on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Darras' play has been a key reason. After earning all-region honors as a junior, the University of Mary recruit has taken another step forward in her final campaign. She leads the Braves in scoring (15.5 ppg), rebounds (91), assists (29) and steals (20).
"You definitely feel that just in terms of being a senior and knowing we had some big shoes to fill that I knew whether it was scoring more points or providing more leadership, that was kind of going to be what I needed to do this season," Darras said. "It's been really fun. We have a really good group of girls. We work hard and we play well together."
Mandan features a balanced scoring attack this season. Sydney Gustavsson added 15 points for the Braves, who had seven players score in all. Mandan also was clutch from the stripe, making 12 of 13 free throws.
"It's been great to see that we're getting contributions from a lot of girls," Darras said.
Jamestown, who fell to 5-4 in the conference and 6-4 overall, was led by Kameron Selvig's 15 points. Grace Hegerle (12) and Katherine Horgan (10) also were in double figures.
The Braves are back in action on Saturday, hosting Watford City at 1:45 p.m.
"We've been able to get some big wins this season against some good teams and that's great for our confidence," Darras said. "Our coaches do a really good job staying on us to keep working hard and improving and that will only make us better in the end."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org