George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
It's been 20 full days since the Montana State University Northern men's basketball team was last in action. So don't be surprised if this weekend's games in Spearfish, S.D. will be tightly contested ones. The Lights (10-3) return to action tonight in Spearfish when they take on the always-tough Black Hills State Yellow Jackets in the first of two nonconference games this weekend. MSU-N wraps up nonconference play on Saturday in Spearfish against South Dakota Tech. The Yellowjackets come into tonight's game with a 7-7 overall record, but they have two wins this season against Frontier Conference schools. BHSU opened its season in Butte with an 84-76 win over Montana Tech on Oct. 26, and then beat conference frontrunner Rocky Mountain College, 96-83 on Dec. 7. In both those wins, the Yellowjackets did one thing extremely well, score the basketball, and that's something MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse's Lights will have to watch out for tonight. However, Northern comes into tonight's game as one of the top defensive teams in the Frontier. The Lights are surrendering just over 68 points per game, second-best in the conference this season. So defense shouldn't be a problem tonight. But offense could be. Despite being one of the top scoring teams in the league, Northern has had a 20-day layoff, so some rust is to be expected. And that's one of the objectives for MSU-N this weekend, is getting the rust off and being sharp for the start of conference play, which is just one week away. The Lights are led into action be senior Delvaughn Tinned and junior Travis Noble. The backcourt duo combines to average nearly 40 points per game, and both guards are shooting over 40 percent form the 3-point-line. Senior Drew Pettersen and sophomore Andrew Sellars are also averaging at, or near double figures for the Lights, and junior Clinton Shelton and Pettersen combine to average better than 16 rebounds per outing. Meanwhile, the high-scoring Yellowjackets rely on 6-0 shooting guard Cain Atkinson and 6-1 freshman guard Spencer Childress, the teams leading scorers. In the paint, another freshman, Will Johnson anchors the Yellowjackets. On Saturday, at 4:30 p.m., the Lights will square off against South Dakota Tech in the finale of the Perkins Classic. The Hardrockers are 3-8 on the season, and they have losses to Montana Tech, RMC and the University of Great Falls on their schedule this season. The Hardrockers are paced on offense by 6-6 junior Don DeGooyer. De- Gooyer played his high school basketball at CMR High School in Great Falls. Freshmen Michael Ross and AJ Trennepohl also average in double figures for Tech. Tonight's game against BHSU and Saturday's contest against Tech are the final games of 2007 for MSU-N. The Lights return home on Jan. 4 to take on RMC in the conference opener for both schools.