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Tom Mix, Published March 13 2013

Shanley girls hitting their stride in postseason play

Fargo - The regular season didn’t end on the greatest of notes for the Fargo Shanley girls basketball team, but so far, the postseason has been nothing but kind to the Deacons.

Shanley had a 10-game winning streak snapped by Fargo North on Feb. 28, but the No. 1-ranked Deacons regrouped to win the East Region tournament clinching the East’s top seed for the North Dakota Class A state tournament, which starts today, at the Bismarck Civic Center.

The Deacons (20-2) play Mandan, the No. 4 seed from the West, at 1 p.m. in the first round.

“We played better every night and I thought we came together as a group,” Shanley head coach Tim Jacobson said of his team’s run in the East Region tournament. “We battled hard on the defensive end and controlled the tempo of the last three games. That was import.”

Shanley features a potent starting five that blends both perimeter shooting and efficient post play. The starting rotation also is balanced in that three of the five are seniors (Jessica Anderson, Kelly Weir and Haley Brenner) and the other two are underclassmen (sophomore Alivia Fraase and freshman Sarah Jacobson).

Jacobson – a 5-foot-8 guard – is averaging 16.1 points and 5 assists per game. She and Weir are the team’s leading 3-point shooters and have combined to hit 79 3s this season.

Weir averages 11.6 points per game and shoots 49 percent from the field.

“Right now, the five starters we have are all capable of scoring in double figures,” Tim Jacobson said. “They are getting very comfortable with one another on the floor. We got a good combination of shooters on the perimeter, and our inside game is getting stronger.”

The Deacons’ inside game is controlled by Anderson (6-foot-1) and Fraase (6-foot). Both started on the Deacons volleyball team that qualified for the state tournament last fall, and this winter the duo has flourished in the paint.

Anderson – who leads the Deacons in field-goal percentage (58 percent) – averages 10.5 points, 5.1 blocks and 9 rebounds per game. Fraase follows close behind with 9 points and 8 rebounds a game.

“Jessica has been very steady for us,” Tim Jacobson said. “She has been a starter for us since her freshman year and she has gotten better each season. Jessica has always been good defensively, but offensively she is just doing so much with ball this year.”

The success the Deacons have enjoyed thus far was something Tim Jacobson thought would happen considering most of the varsity rotation was part of the Deacons’ state tournament team a year ago.

“We had the right combination coming into this year,” Jacobson said. “We had a lot of players that played a lot in the offseason, which is huge. They knew with some hard work we could do some good things this year.

“It’s been a fun group. They understand the ups and downs of basketball.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562