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Tom Mix, Published March 14 2012

State-bound Kindred squad takes it game by game

Kindred, N.D. - The date was Dec. 10 and just moments before the Kindred girls basketball team took the floor for its first game of the season, first-year head coach Perry Piatz told his team, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.”

The Vikings defeated May-Port-CG 67-39, so naturally when the Vikings played Enderlin six days later in Kindred, Piatz kept the pregame speech simple saying, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first two.”

It worked again with Kindred winning 66-47, and it kept working until No. 2-ranked Kindred played its 22nd game of the year. The Vikings’ 21-game winning streak to open the year was snapped by a loss to Central Cass in the District 2 championship game.

Ten days later, Kindred avenged the loss, defeating the Squirrels in the Region 1 championship game, earning a spot in the North Dakota Class B state tournament set to begin today at the Bismarck Civic Center. The Vikings (24-1) play Beach at 8 p.m. today in the quarterfinals.

“That loss to Central Cass took a load off the team,” Piatz said during a pep rally Tuesday evening at the Kindred High School gym. “I never thought I’d say losing a game would be good for us, but we refocused.”

The Vikings are making their sixth appearance in the state tournament and first since 2007.

After the undefeated regular season and region title, the town of Kindred is all abuzz with its girls basketball team. The pep rally was well attended, despite the school being on spring break. Piatz said more than 400 Vikings state tournament T-shirts have been made for the team’s trip to Bismarck.

Piatz, who coached boys basketball in Gackle and Kindred, was an assistant coach for the Vikings under his brother Shane and took over this winter after Shane took a teaching job at Northern Cass.

He inherited a solid team that had the makings for a good year, and on Tuesday, Piatz found himself smack dab in the middle of all the celebration. The pep rally featured several team activities, including one where whip cream covered the face of Piatz and several members of the team while others attempted to get Cheetos to stick to it.

“Obviously, I walked into a pretty good situation with everybody coming back from last year,” Piatz said. “It’s been a magical year. Everything has gone right and the kids have stayed healthy for the most part. Everything just seems to have fallen into place.”

The team camaraderie showed Tuesday, but it has been there all season for the Vikings.

“Our team is super close,” said junior Kellie Schmit, who averages 16.2 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game. “We’ve grown up together and done everything together for so long. It’s finally a time where we get to do something together at this amazing level.”

Senior Braidy Dahl averages 11.6 points and 6 rebounds per game and scored her 1,000th point during the region tournament, but her main goal was making it to Bismarck.

“It’s such a big deal to make it to state my senior year, because I’ve wanted it since I was a little girl, and I know the rest of my team has too,” Dahl said. “It’s a big accomplishment.”

Most of the team has been playing together since grade school.

“Our undefeated regular season was definitely a big accomplishment,” said senior Harlee Glasow who averages 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. “It was fun to do it with this group of girls. We knew that when we were younger that our junior and senior years would be our best years, and we just looked forward to that the whole time.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562

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