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Second season

Midland Lutheran is just the kind of team that is dangerous to play in the postseason, Dakota Wesleyan coach Kevin Lein says. The Warriors are both "athletic, and they have some kids that are sort of unknown," Lein said. So when Dakota Wesleyan p...

Midland Lutheran is just the kind of team that is dangerous to play in the postseason, Dakota Wesleyan coach Kevin Lein says.

The Warriors are both "athletic, and they have some kids that are sort of unknown," Lein said.

So when Dakota Wesleyan plays host to Midland Lutheran today in the Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament, Lein said he just hopes that what he considers an up-and-down team "isn't on one of their up swings."

Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Corn Palace.

Wesleyan, ranked No. 14 in the nation in today's NAIA II women's basketball poll, went 20-11 during the regular season and finished third in the GPAC regular-season standings, a year after winning the conference title.

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After cruising through the national tournament before losing in the Final Four to eventual champion Hasings College, the Tigers this year are finding themselves short on options for rejoining the national tournament party next month in Sioux City, Iowa.

The first possible berth goes to the regular-season GPAC champion, an honor reaped upon unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Concordia. The next possible berth can be gained by winning the GPAC tournament, which won't be easy considering that there are five teams in the eight-team field with at least 18 wins.

And third, a team can get into the nationals with an at-large invitation, which likely will be granted to teams that finish high in the final NAIA II rankings.

A loss tonight to Midland (14-14) not only will end the Tigers' hopes of winning the GPAC tournament, but it also could cause major problems in the team's hopes of ending the season ranked high in the NAIA II poll. It would mean an at-large invitation may be hard to come by.

Wesleyan beat Midland 70-60 during the regular season, but the Tigers had trouble in the last weeks of the season, losing a lead and, eventually, the game to Concordia and falling to GPAC weakling Dordt College.

"You're only as good as the game you're playing, but I think we had about three halves where we didn't play well during the last month, and that would be the second half against Concordia and the whole game against Dordt. Maybe the last three minutes against Sioux Falls," Lein said. "I think offensively, we're getting to know each other much better and I think things are about as good as I could hope for. I just wish we didn't have to suffer some losses to figure things out, but that's the way it goes."

The goal now?

"Our goal has been set at 80 minutes," Lein said, referring to getting wins today and in Saturday's semifinal round. "The (national poll) raters have us at 14th and that gives us a terrific shot at an at-large, if nothing else. Everything is falling into place, but we have to take care of business."

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Other GPAC tournament games today have Mount Marty (15-13) at Hastings (25-5), Northwestern (20-8) at Sioux Falls (18-8) and Doane (16-16) at Concordia (32-0).

Wesleyan is led offensively by Randi Morgan, who averages 20 points and 11 rebounds a game and is among the GPAC leaders in both categories. Also, Victoria Drefs is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds a game.

The Armour junior had 18 points and eight rebounds in a 76-70 win over No. 16-ranked Northwestern and then had 21 points and six rebounds in an 81-67 win over Nebraska Wesleyan.

Tuesday, she was named GPAC player of the week.

Midland Lutheran is led by Jill Hayden and Rebecca Garrelts, who average 14 and 13 points, respectively, per game.

Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.


As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.



Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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