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Packers rely on chemistry with state tournament hopes

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Packers rely on chemistry with state tournament hopes

By Colton Pool Today at 5:01 a.m.

Packers rely on chemistry with state tournament hopes

Two basketball players take part in a drill during practice Wednesday, Nov. 23, at West Fargo High School.Michael Vosburg / The Pioneer1 / 2

Packers rely on chemistry with state tournament hopes

The West Fargo girls basketball team holds practice Wednesday, Nov. 23, at West Fargo High School.Michael Vosburg / The Pioneer2 / 2

This year's West Fargo girls basketball team reminds head coach Barb Metcalf of her team in 2012. That year, the Packers were in the state championship and lost by just three points.

But West Fargo isn't thinking that far ahead yet.

The Packers begin their season at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, at Minot. For right now, they're just trying to get better game by game.

"We're tough to scout, and that's what I like," Metcalf said. "You're never going to know what our kids are going to do. Especially with the talent we have this year, good luck trying to stop a couple of them."

West Fargo made it to the state tournament last year and ended up sixth. Metcalf, who has led the Packers to the state tourney most of her previous nine seasons as head coach, said the team will have shoes to fill from last year, but there's plenty of returners to make up for it.

One of those coming back is senior Akealy Moton, a returning first-team all-state selection who signed to the University of North Dakota. She's the state's top returning scorer in Class A with 21 points and top returning rebounder with 11 per game last year, according to the North Dakota Hoopster. According to that, she's also the eighth among returning players with 27 blocks and third with 81 steals last season. Moton also totaled 34 assists last season.

"We all kind of fit in well with each other last year," Moton said. "We've done a lot of team bonding, and I feel that's going to be the same case this year so I'm hyped."

The Packers also return senior forward Gabby DuBois, a Bemidji State signee who's 23rd among the state's returning players with 10 points per game and 16th with five rebounds per game, according to the Hoopster. Metcalf said 6-foot sophomore Mariah Schatz, who had four points and five rebounds per game, will be the team's center.

Metcalf said the team's goal going into the season is to keep its turnovers down to 12, which may be tough the way the Packers like to run the ball with an up-tempo attack fed by their defense. This season might be a little different considering West Fargo also has enough height to run an effective half-court offense.

"We lose as a team and win as a team," DuBois said. "We've got each other's backs. We're all in."

Just like last year, Metcalf said this year's team has a great deal of chemistry because they're together off the court and get along, which makes a long season much easier to get through. She's been impressed by how much her players have worked in the offseason without their coaches, who have made camps and leagues available in the summer, having to push them.

The trust level is almost innate, Metcalf added.

"The chemistry on this team is special. The gals are working hard in the offseason together," Metcalf said. "I think that's a real sign of chemistry within a team."

This is a team that has some roles to fill from last year, but Metcalf likes her senior leadership because even if they've had individual success, she said they're team players.

"That builds a recipe for something that could come out pretty special," Metcalf said.

West Fargo Packers girls basketball

Coach: Barb Metcalf (10th year)

Record: 17-10, sixth place at state tournament

Who's gone: Kennedi Sand, Elizabeth Krueger, Keely Walker, Shelby Larsen.

Key returners: Akealy Moton, Sr.; Gabby DuBois, Sr.; Mariah Schatz, Soph.; Jenna Beck, Sr.; Kylie Stedman, Sr.

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