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NLS defense faces tough test

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When members of the media interview New London-Spicer coach Mike Dreier about his team for today's start of the Class AA state tournament, the conversation might go something like this:

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"You've taken teams to 14 state tournaments now and you've always had some outstanding individual scorers. So who is your big scoring threat this season?"

"Don't have one."

"Who is your leading scorer?"

"Depends on what game you are talking about."

Some might leave with the impression that Dreier is aloof when being interviewed. But the coach, in his 31st season and the state's all-time win leader in girls basketball (697), has never taken a team to the state tournament like this one.

"I'm not sure I've ever had a team make it to the state tournament with no big scorer," he said. "Seems like we've always had one or two."

What the Wildcats can do is play defense. The current squad has held their opponents under 30 points six times this season and under 40 points an amazing 18 times out of 30 games. Only twice has a team hit 50 points against them, a 58-57 win over Eden Valley-Watkins in the season opener on Dec. 2 and a 50-41 loss to Albany on Jan. 27.

The Wildcats (29-1) are meeting a team that leads Class AA in scoring average. East Grand Forks (28-2) averages 78 points-per-game this season and NLS allows 34. Something has to give when the Wildcats and Green Wave collide at 6 p.m. today at Williams Arena.

NLS has a pair of double-figure scorers in Justine Dammermann, a 5-6 junior guard, who averages 10.2 points and 4.0 assists per game; and Karli Wendlandt, a 5-9 junior forward, who averages 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds.

East Grand Forks is led by Ashley Tingelstad, a 5-10 senior guard, who has signed a letter of intent with North Dakota State for track. The 1,000-point scorer averages 19.4 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 3 assists. Kate Warmack, a 6-2 junior center, averages 15.6 points and 9 rebounds per game. And Chelsey Frydenlund, a 5-9 sophomore guard, averages 14.7 points, 5 assists and 3 steals per game.

NLS, which last appeared in the state tournament in 2004, won state titles in 1997 and 2002 and was runner-up in 1991, '92, '93, '94 and 2001. EGF was a state runner-up in 1986 and last appeared in the state tournament in 1991.

NOTES: Dreier is coaching the daughter of a former player that was on the team when he reached the state tournament for the first time in his career. Mimi Knutson, also the co-head coach of the NLS volleyball team, was a sophomore reserve on the 1985 state tournament team. Her daughter, Karsee Knutson, is a sophomore reserve on this year's team ... Dreier ties a state tournament record for most coaching appearances with 14. Myron Glass of Rochester Lourdes also had appeared 14 times ... Karli Wendlandt's sisters, Jenn and Katie, were members of the 2004 state tournament team.

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