Havre Daily News sports editor
After a quick breather in Canada last weekend, where they had two relatively easy wins over Augustana College, the Montana State University-Northern Skylights will return to their home court Saturday for the final time in 2005.
The Skylights will host Whitworth College at 5 p.m. Saturday at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse in Havre.
Northern is off to a 4-0 start since returning to the floor after a Nov. 14 van crash in western Montana sidetracked its season. Since that time, however, the Skylights have defeated Rocky Mountain College and the University of Great Falls in nonconference clashes, followed by their two wins over Augustana last weekend in Camrose, Alberta.
Saturday, the Skylights (8-3) welcome the Whitworth College Pirates from Spokane, Wash., in their final home game before the Frontier Conference season gets under way in early January.
The Pirates, of the NAIA's Northwest Conference, come into Havre with a 4-3 record. That includes a win over Frontier Conference member Montana Tech last month.
Whitworth has a solid group of talented players, including several all-conference standouts from a year ago. Becca Karste, Chelsea Combs and Amy Ridings all return this season to lead the Pirates on the floor and in the lockeroom.
Other than the trio of returning players, the Pirates are an extremely young team with five freshmen and six sophomores on their roster. One of those sophomores, Kelli Highland, who stands at 6-0, will present a serious threat to Northern's interior defense on Saturday night.
Still, the more experienced Skylights shouldn't have too much trouble with the young Pirates on the road. Despite carrying on without three of their top 10 players on the roster, the Skylights have been a force offensively in their last four games.
Northern is getting nearly 20 points per game from senior Jaci Heny, and fellow senior Camille Gardner is averaging in double figures from her point guard position. Junior DeLayne Johnston is improving her numbers every single game out and she is coming off of a 26-point outburst last Friday against Augustana. The Skylights are also getting very steady play from forward Michele VanDyke, who is also averaging in double digits in scoring and rebounding.
Saturday night's nonconference affair between MSU-N and Whitworth College will tip off at 5 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse in Havre.