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Lady Royals Region Champs

By   Harry Lipsiea

By Harry Lipsiea
Published in the Devils Lake Journal March 2, 2015

During the past two seasons, the Lake Region State College women’s basketball team has beaten every opponent they have played on its home court. That was just one of the accomplishments that the squad completed Sunday afternoon in the Devils Lake Sports Center.

Avenging a home loss from earlier this season, the Royals took over down the stretch to defeated Williston State College in the Region XIII finals.

Lake Region State College, who worked through a deficit for much of the first half, took control in the final 20 minutes on the way to an 80-72 in front of a home crowd.

The game shows what the group is all about, first-year head coach Danny Mertens told the Journal.

“It says a lot about the heart that this team has,” Mertens pointed out. “You can’t get discouraged when things aren’t going your way and I think that was so important for us. They continued to stay focused.”

Mertens credits sophomore leadership for maintaining focus on the team even when the going gets tough for the Royals.

The eight sophomores are Taylor Henningsgard, Ashtin Freije, Taylor Swanson, Becca Eberle, Sara Schwanke, Morgan Titus, Samone Motley and Meghan Jorgenson.

“It’s a great group who has played a lot of games,” the coach added. “Having that ability to stick with it late in games is something that you learn from experience. These sophomores have done a great job of providing that all season long for us.”

One key all season long for the Royals has been balanced scoring. That was no different Sunday as five players were in double figures scoring. Becca Eberle had a gigantic game scoring 18 points while adding nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Kennedy Henningsgard finished with 17 points while Sara Schwanke finished with 13. Taylor Henningsgard scored 12 points. Megan Cantellano hit double digits with 10 points. Asthin Freije added eight points while Morgan Titus rounded out the scoring with two points.

After the game, post-season awards were announced. Lake Region State College had three members of its team earn honors.

Kennedy Henningsgard was named to the All-Region XIII team. She is a freshman from Buxton.

“Kennedy has been so consistently strong for us all season long,” Mertens said.

Taylor Henningsgard was named the Region XIII Most Valuable Player. She is a sophomore from Buxton.

“What can you say about Taylor?” Mertens added. “She is a great floor general. When you have a point guard like her it is so important to the team. Taylor has had a great year and is very deserving of the award.”

Mertens was named Region XIII Coach of the Year.

The first-year head coach thanked the community for their support of the program.

“I can’t say enough about how much the support means to us,” Mertens pointed out. “Our fans were tremendous again today. It’s just great to see.”

Now, the Royals are one game from one of its major goals: qualifying for the national tournament.

On Saturday, the Royals, who improved to 25-7 with the victory, travel to Illinois for the District D Championship. With a win, Lake Region State College would advance to the National Tournament in Salina, Kan., for the second year in a row.

The Royals come in to the game with confidence and momentum on its side.

“This group is still hungry,” the coach added. “It’s a very focused team. We have had said all long that if we can stay consistent and confident, good things will happen.”