With only two players with extensive Class A state tournament experience on the roster, the Minot High girls basketball team is plenty comfortable heading into its 3 p.m. quarterfinal against East Region No. 2 seed West Fargo today at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Juniors Sierra and McKale Duttenhefer remember competing at the Aud in middle school and even as freshmen. Most of the Majettes have an awful lot of familiarity with the arena.
"I think we will have a little bit of a home-court advantage because we've shot up there and we've played up there during practice," said Minot's lone senior, Jayden Moum. "A lot of the girls are used to playing there."
Minot High junior Brooke Suko (25) helped the Majettes secure a spot in the Class A state tournament. They open play against East Region No. 2 seed West Fargo today at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
This weekend marks the first time the Class A boys and girls basketball tournaments will be held in the same city. The first-round girls games are at the Aud, while the Minot State Dome hosts boys quarterfinal contests.
After falling in a state-qualifier last season, Minot hopes to improve on its fifth-place finish in Fargo two years ago.
"This is going to be a great weekend. The kids are so relaxed," Minot coach Todd Magnuson said. "We get to sleep in our beds this weekend. We can take our time getting places. We don't have to take buses anywhere.
"It's going to be one of those things where we can relax a little bit and just go play basketball."
The No. 2 Packers (20-2) lost in the East Region championship to Shanley on Saturday after sweeping the regular-season series with the Deacons. Senior Cassidy Thorson, the East Region outstanding senior athlete, averages 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
In December, West Fargo topped Minot 57-52 after holding a 12-point halftime lead. The Majettes (14-8) fought back to within two points of the lead before settling for a road loss. The Packers rank second in the state in scoring at 66.7 points per game, with a good chunk of points coming off turnovers.
"They're the type of team that they're gonna mix it up a little bit on defense," Magnuson said. "They're gonna play some man, they're gonna play some 2-3 zone, they're gonna 2-2-1 press us, they're gonna 1-2-2 press us. They're gonna mix it up."
If seed hold, the winner of Minot and West Fargo will draw top-ranked Bismarck. Magnuson said at a team Christmas party in December, his team told him they wanted to first make state, but then reach the championship game. Part one is complete.
"All the girls want to go out with a bang," Moum said. "We know we have to take it game by game, but we want to get to that state championship."
The Majettes will have better-than-normal support from the home crowd, as Minot High is on its spring break today and Friday.
"We're expecting everyone to be there," McKale Duttenhefer said. "Mostly everyone I've talked to has said they're coming. And since we are home, what else are you doing Thursday and Friday?"
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.