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LAFAKIS: Players to watch at GBB Region 6 Tournament

This year’s high school girls basketball season has proved to be rife with twists and turns. I’ve enjoyed watching some of the state’s most talented players go to work.

As we head into the Region 6 Tournament, here’s a look at some local athletes to keep an eye on (in no particular order):

Players to Watch

Leah Feland, Mohall/Lansford/Sherwood: The District 12 Senior Athlete of the Year has impressed all season long. I watched her eclipse the 1,500-point mark against Velva earlier this year, and she’s continued to excel.

Feland can do it all on the court. Her shooting ability will be a boon to the Mavericks.

Janie Savelkoul, Mohall/Lansford/Sherwood: Savelkoul is an anchor on a balanced Mavericks squad. She’s a battle-tested senior leader, and that experience will serve MLS well in this tournament.

Kaitlyn Lund, Velva: The senior has provided much-needed experience for Velva this year. A steady presence on the court, Lund has provided tremendous contributions for the Aggies during their injury-riddled season.

Lund helped the Aggies capture a District 11 championship and brings a winning pedigree to the court.

Olivia Passa, Velva: Passa has strung together a slew of impressive performances in her freshman year. Her game shows a commendable amount of maturity.

A hard-working Bishop Ryan team will test the Aggies today, but Passa is a forced to be reckoned with.

Hailey Roberts, Our Redeemer’s: Roberts transferred in from Nedrose and has the ability to score in bunches. The senior guard can run the offense and plays stout defense.

If Roberts gets hot from deep, look out.

Maya Vibeto, Our Redeemer’s: It’s tough to believe that Vibeto is only an eighth-grader. Out of all the players I’ve covered this season, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that she plays with the most fire and intensity.

She’s the first Knight to encourage her teammates and leads in a variety of ways.

Sydney Upton, Bishop Ryan: I watched the sophomore take over during the volleyball season, and I’ve seen her do the same thing on the basketball court. She brings solid size and toughness to the hardwood.

Upton is one tough customer, to be sure. She’s cemented herself as a clutch performer.

Brooke Blessum, Rugby: Blessum’s height presents problems for opponents. She towers over smaller defenders and features a deft outside touch.

Without a doubt, Blessum is one of the most talented and most athletically gifted players in the tournament.

Sarah Blessum, Rugby: Blessum is another force on a loaded Rugby squad. She plays with poise in the backcourt and has buoyed the Panthers this season.

As a junior, she’ll offer much-needed playoff experience.

Ellie Braaten, Westhope/Newburg: The freshman guard plays with a poise beyond her years. She engineers a talented Sioux offense and is one of the quickest players I’ve seen this year.

Her ability to penetrate will certainly help Westhope/Newburg in the tournament.

McKenna Rolland, Glenburn: Like Upton, Rolland proved her mettle on the volleyball court this season. The junior is a leader on a deep Glenburn squad.

Rolland can score at all three levels, and her bucket-getting ability will certainly assist the Panthers against Rugby this evening.

Morgan McIver, Glenburn: No bones about it — McIver has the scoring gene. As a senior, she leads through her game and by example.

The Panthers will have their hands full against Rugby, but McIver’s talents give Glenburn a boost.

Sabra Peterson, Bottineau: Peterson gives the Stars a scoring presence in the backcourt. The junior has blossomed into one of Bottineau’s top bucket-getters.

MLS will challenge the Stars this afternoon. Peterson can help level playing the field.

Honorable mentions

Allison Undlin, Mohall/Lansford/Sherwood; Kylie Abernathey, Mohall/Lansford/Sherwood; Tea Boeckel, Our Redeemer’s; Kendal Braun, Our Redeemer’s; Lorelei McIver, Glenburn; Nadia Post, Glenburn; Mya Troska, Bottineau; Maya Wald, Bishop Ryan; Grace Candrian, Bishop Ryan; Jazamine Solis; Westhope/Newburg; Madison Effertz, Velva; Riley Grove, Rugby.

This is the opinion of Jimmy Lafakis. He covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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