Friendship at the helm

Best friends Vogel and Lauf lead the DLB Lakers

Alex Eisen/MDN Des Lacs-Burlington junior Kyley Lauf holds the ball in a game against Lewis & Clark-Berthold on Monday.

A moment of vulnerability is enough to spark a lasting relationship.

For Des Lacs-Burlington senior Caitlyn Vogel and junior Kyley Lauf, it was a rather unusual request made two years ago that helped turn these two teammates into best friends.

“We were actually on the volleyball bus on our way to Casselton and she had to go to the bathroom,” Lauf said. “She asked me to go with her and I was like, ‘I’ll go with you.’ And we have been best friends ever since.”

The buddy system worked then and still does now.

The upperclassmen duo is steering the youthful No. 10-ranked Des Lacs-Burlington girls basketball team to a pretty promising season. The Lakers (10-1) are at the top of District 12 and Region 6 standings in pursuit of the program’s first trip to the Class B State Tournament since 1990.

Alex Eisen/MDN Des Lacs-Burlington senior Caitlyn Vogel dribbles the ball up the court in a District 12 girls basketball game Monday in Berthold.

Vogel, averaging 16.7 points per game this season, takes on more of the ball handing responsibilities and Lauf, 14.5 points per game, is tasked with more post ups and inside work as a forward.

Their skill sets complement each other and the chemistry between them is easy to see.

“We don’t even have to think really,” Vogel said. “We can just read each other and know what our next moves are. We can really push each other because we know how each other plays.”

Making themselves and their teammates better as well.

For a young team like DLB with one senior, one junior, three sophomores and handful of freshmen, having relatable leaders like Vogel and Lauf to turn to is invaluable.

“Caitlyn and Kyley obviously have their sights set on greatness, no matter what they’re doing,” Bonn said. “In practices and games, they lead in their own way, which works out very well for us. While some underclassmen are more comfortable with Cait, others feel more connected to Ky — which then gives all of them a positive leader in one way or another.”

Who steps up depends on the situation.

“They kind of take turns,” Bonn said. “One day, one of them will kind of be more of the quiet leader and the other one will be more outgoing. The next day it will be something different. But, they seem to work really hard at making connections with everyone on the team so that everybody feels connected to at least one or both of them.”

They are both more than willing to share the spotlight. When asked who would take the last shot with the game on the line, they both diplomatically gave the same response, “Whoever is open.”

That scenario nearly played out Monday evening, as Lewis & Clark-Berthold pushed the Lakers to the limit. While Vogel had a team-high 18 points after an impactful first half, she sat on the bench for a majority of the fourth quarter when DLB mounted its comeback.

Vogel didn’t score in the fourth quarter, but cheered on the efforts of Lauf, sophomore Sara Bonn and freshmen Brooklyn Benno, Brynley Benno and Ava Wille.

Clutch free throws and a jumper by Lauf with 30 seconds left helped the Lakers get out of Berthold with a gritty 43-40 win.

“It feels good because they look up to you,” Lauf said about being an upperclassman. “But, we also look to them for help because there are a lot of them on our team and they make our team what it is.”

Vogel and Lauf aren’t just leaders on the court, or on the track in the spring.

“They are two of the most well-rounded people you’ll ever meet,” Tracy Bonn said. “They are great students, they’re active in their families and in their communities and they are leaders throughout the high school. Also, to their credit, they are not just basketball standouts. They’ve also both made their mark on the volleyball and the track world.”

The DLB volleyball team finished fourth at regionals this season with a 29-11 overall record.

Vogel, a sprinter, took fourth place in 100-meter and 200-meter dash, plus sixth in the 400 at the 2017 Class B state track and field meet. Lauf was a part of the seventh place 4×200 relay team with Vogel, and placed 12th in the 800-meter run.

During the rare occasions when they aren’t playing sports, they are currently planning and putting together the Dream Catcher Fashion Show for kids with disabilities to be held 4 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Minot. They can also be found with cameras taking pictures — Vogel roamed the sidelines getting action shots of the DLB boys basketball team last season.

“As a coach, a teacher and as a parent in this community, I feel pretty lucky to have gotten to know and to work with these ladies and their parents,” Tracy Bonn said. “They are never not a joy to be around. They laugh and are always working together to make being around them a good place to be. We just have a lot of fun.”

A bond built through sports, but eventually their time of playing high school sports will run out.

However, friendships can last forever.

“We were both on the same sports teams and we kind of just clicked,” Lauf said. “We are like the same person, just in two different bodies.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.