CHADRON, Neb. — January 30, 2020 — After playing a bulk of their games on the road so far this season, the Chadron State College basketball teams will be playing lots more games in their Chicoine Center, one of the classiest courts in NCAA Division II, beginning this weekend.
Their neighbors from the north will be the first to invade. Black Hills State will be the opponents Friday night and South Dakota School of Mines on Saturday night. Both Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference double-headers will tip off at 5:30 with the women’s games.
The Chadron State men have played 19 games, only five of them at home. The women have played 22 contests, seven of them in Chadron. During the remainder of the season, both quintets will have seven of their nine games in Chicoine.
Hopefully, the home games will net more victories. The CSC women are 5-17 for the season and the men are 3-16. However, an array of outstanding players and teams will be making the visits and nothing is expected to come easy for the Eagles, even when the games are at home.
As traveling partners, Black Hills State and Mines played one other in their first RMAC clashes of the season on Nov. 26. The homestanding Yellow Jackets won both contests.
The four South Dakota teams then visited Utah the first weekend of December to take on Dixie State and Westminster. The Mines women edged Dixie State 70-68 in overtime, but the home teams won the remaining three.
Since then the Black Hills State men have won all 11 of their games, including five by four or fewer points. They are 14-5 overall and 11-2 in the RMAC to share the top spot with Dixie State.
The Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer is 6-foot-7 freshman Joel Scott, who is averaging 17.3 points while shooting 62.4 percent from the field that includes going 22 of 43 from 3-point range. Somehow, Coach Ryan Thompson sneaked him out of Colorado Springs even though he was the Class 4A Player of the Year after leading Lewis-Palmer High to the state championship a year ago.
Scott tallied 35 points last Saturday night when the Yellow Jackets thumped CSU-Pueblo 94-76 in Pueblo.
Black Hills has plenty of other punch. Junior guard Trey Whitley is averaging 13.7 points, senior Tyler Oliver is at 13.5 a game to go with 33 steals and 77 assists, while 6-6 Stefan Desnica averages 12.2 points.
The Black Hills women are 11-7 for the season and 8-5 in the RMAC to share sixth place. Their leader is 5-9 junior Racquel Wientjes, who is averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, has scored as many as 35 points in a game this winter and tallied 28 Saturday night during a 69-63 setback at Pueblo.
Morgan Ham, a 6-1 forward, is the Lady Jackets’ only other regular double-figure scorer with a 14.2 average.
The South Dakota Mines women are 8-9 for the season and 6-7 in the conference, putting them ninth in the standings. Their top gun is 5-9 sophomore Ryan Weiss, who is shooting 47.5 percent from the field, including 48 percent (61-127) from 3-point land. She’s also made 43 of 49 free throws and was the RMAC’s Offensive Player of the Week after she scored 57 points during blowout wins over Pueblo and Highlands last weekend.
Another Lady Rockers’ stalwart is 5-11 senior Anna Haugen, who is averaging 10.4 points and 9.4 rebounds. The latter ranks second in the conference.
The Mines men are in about the same position as the women in the playoff picture. After losing at both Pueblo and Highlands last weekend, they are 9-10 overall and 6-7 in the RMAC. The previous weekend they toppled Colorado Mines 84-69 and Colorado Springs 71-49 at home.
Coached by CSC graduate Eric Glenn, the Hardrockers feature 5-11 senior guard Allec Williams, who is averaging 14.1 points and was named the RMAC Offensive Player of the Week after tallying 48 points in the wins two weeks ago over Colorado Mines and Colorado Springs.
The Hardrockers have good height, including 6-9 sophomore Mitch Sueker, who scored 32 points in the first game versus the Eagles last year. He’s averaging 13.2 points this season. Senior Logan Elers, who is 6-7, is chipping in 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
While the Chadron State teams have struggled, they’ve also had numerous bright spots.
The men’ team is second in the RMAC in 3-pointers made with 171 and is third in free throw shooting at 76.2 percent. Forward Brian Rodriguez is fifth in the conference in scoring at 17.2 points a game, third in 3-point shooting at 43.3 percent and second in offensive rebounding. In addition, point guard Colby Jackson is second in assists per game with 5.5 and fourth in assist/turnovers ratio.