MOORHEAD—Katlyn Brenna looked over at Minnesota Class 4A St. Francis warming up. She was intimidated.
Brenna is one of the shortest players on the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton girls basketball team that already lacks height. St. Francis, a bigger school with plenty of bigger players, towered above the Rebels.
Then the game tipped off. The Rebels didn't look intimidated for a minute.
The Class 2A No. 2-ranked Rebels jumped to an early lead and went on to a 72-55 victory against St. Francis on Thursday, Dec. 28, at Moorhead High School as part of the Moorhead Holiday Tournament.
"We always look to push the floor anyways. It really was to our advantage to push the floor on the bigger team," said Rebels all-time leading scorer Natalie Steichen. "We just worked together to work our confidence up."
The Rebels (6-0) have started the season on a six-game winning streak typically using a fast-paced offense. That style allows the Rebels to take advantage of their speed. A fast tempo also means the Rebels don't have to worry as much about their lack of height offensively.
The Rebels showed they can win in a variety of ways. They slowed the pace down and relied on a methodical half-court offense to dominate time of possession and limit chances for the Saints.
The Rebels also spread the ball around as four different players finished with double-digit points. Steichen scored a game-high 18 points—13 in the second half—by making 10 of 12 free throws. Brenna scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half, and Grace Steichen totaled 10 of her 15 points in the first half. Allie Critchley added 13 points.
Sydney Zgutowicz led St. Francis with 16 points, while Danah Ocsan and Emma Goldeman each added 10.
"This was one of our best games this season," Brenna said. "I think we can keep playing this well if we stay connected as a team."
St. Francis (5-2) started the season 5-1 overall and 3-1 in Class 4A Section 7. Brenna said jumping to an early lead was important if the Rebels wanted a shot at the higher class team.
The beginning of the game, Brenna said, might have been a glimpse of D-G-F's potential for the rest of the season. The Rebels scored in a variety of ways and led 19-7 in the opening minutes. They continued to steadily build on that lead to as high as 19 points in the opening half.
The Saints cut the deficit down and kept pace with the Rebels in the second half, but never got the lead down to less than double digits.
"We wanted to throw the first punch. We wanted them to know we're 2A and we're not going to back down," said Rebels head coach Tom Critchley. "It shows we can play with someone bigger than us. It's going to happen most of the time, but people are going to have to keep up with us."
Halftime: DGF 40, SF 23
DGF: N. Steichen 18, Brenna 16, R. Critchley 3, G. Steichen 15, A. Critchley 13, Frier 2, Wilson 1, Watt 4.
SF: Zgutowicz 16, Ocsan 10, Eastman 6, Sheforgen 3, Goldeman 10, Grahek 3, O'Brien 2, Kopet 2, Schultz 3.