After going 4-0 in December, the Royals opened their Mon-Dak schedule on Jan. 9 in defeat against Williston State, the defending regional champions. Six days later, they were simply outclassed by NDSCS at home, giving LRSC their second conference loss in a week.
But now, after a successful weekend in Minnesota that saw Lake Region State pick up two key road victories, the Royals are finally in the Mon-Dak win column following a convincing 89-63 victory over United Tribes Technical College Wednesday night at the Devils Lake Sports Center.
Led by a dominant inside performance from freshman center Malik Durant-Haines, the Royals led the game by double-digits for all but the opening few minutes, showing the LRSC faithful in attendance just how confident they are in the midst of their current three-game winning streak.
The team’s play was fluid. The passing was crisp and accurate. And, yes, there was even a dunk or two sprinkled into the mix.
LRSC head coach Joe Kittell, who has been a frustrated man amid his team’s recent struggles, was relieved to finally notch a Mon-Dak victory, his first conference tally as the team’s head coach.
Kittell was pleased with how his team played, not only on Wednesday night, but over the weekend as well. He’s hoping that, after a difficult stretch, his players can use these wins as momentum to carry on into the thick of the conference schedule.
“I think these last three games have reminded us of who we should be as a team,” Kittell said. “We talked about ‘the process’ back in November and the importance of trusting each other. We just have to keep preaching that mentality until everyone fully buys into it.
“We had a dip, and now it’s time to take off again. Hopefully that’s where we’re at.”
Like the LRSC women’s team before them, the Royals started the game off hot, starting things off with an immediate 18-3 run that put Lake Region State in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the 40 minutes.
Devin Tohm was a big part of the team’s hot start, hitting three three-point shots in quick succession to put LRSC in front early.
As the first half wore on, it was clear which team was in the ascendency, and as LRSC pulled further and further ahead, the team’s confidence was brought to the forefront, evidenced by some nifty passing and a handful of emphatic finishes.