George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Saturday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse was one the Montana State University-Northern men's and women's basketball teams won't soon forget. But as exciting as Northern's dramatic wins over both nationally-ranked Carroll College teams was this weekend in Havre, both teams are going to have to put it out of their minds when they visit NAIA powerhouse Westminster College tonight in Salt Lake City. The Skylights (11-5, 1-1) enter tonight's game against the No. 23 Grif- fins (13-4, 0-1) fresh off a thrilling win over then No. 7 Carroll on Saturday night. Northern followed a lackluster loss to Rocky Mountain College on Friday night by staging a dramatic win over the Saints in overtime to avoid starting the Frontier Conference season 0-2 at home. But tonight's challenges for MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat's team will be a little different. The Skylights haven't played well in Salt Lake over the last few years and Westminster is one of the more veteran teams in the league. The Griffins, who went to the NAIA national tournament a year ago, and beat the Skylights two-of-three times last season, are led by stellar guards Shannon Evans, Elisa Leader and Janae Hirschi, but 6-0 transfer Alexis Tucker has stepped in and given the Griffins a legitimate threat in the paint. Evans leads the team in scoring at 15 points per game, while Tucker averages 12 points and six rebounds. Northern will counter Westminster tonight with a solid inside-out game. This past weekend, guards Becky Sorenson and Kaylee Shaw were critical in MSU-N's split with Carroll and Rocky, and she leads the team in scoring at 12 points per game. Shaw is averaging 11 points per outing and Dana Ball adds 10. In the pain, junior Stacie Barker continues to dominate. Barker recorded 15 more blocks in two games this weekend, and she is averaging six per game to go along with her leagueleading 12 rebounds per contest. The Skylights' bench will also be a factor on the road. Samm Schermele has played extremely well in her freshman season, but junior forward Jennie Lee gave the Skylights a big lift this weekend. In two games, Lee scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and her help will be needed on the road in a hostile environment tonight. Meanwhile, like the MSU-N women, the Lights will be looking to put an emotional win behind them and concentrate on league favorite Westminster tonight. Following Saturday's dramatic 8-point comeback in a 71-69 win over Carroll, the Lights (12-4, 2-0) are ranked for the first time this season as they head to Salt Lake tonight. Northern is ranked 24th this week in the NAIA and the Griffins (10-3, 1-0) are down to No. 14 after they opened the conference season with a loss to rival Lewis-Clark State on Saturday. So both teams come into tonight's game with emotional games behind them and a lot to play for in the Frontier Conference standings. Northern also wants to atone for some bad trips to Salt Lake a place the Lights have not played well in the past. But in order to do that, MSU-N will have to slow down a balanced Westminster attack led by 6-6 junior Danny Stoisch and point guard Danny Reeder. Stoisch is fourth in the league in scoring at 19 points per game and he is also among the league leaders in rebounds. Stoisch also gets help on the inside from 6-8 forward Nate Sanchez. Meanwhile, Reeder, a two-time Frontier Player of the Year, has been as steady as ever, averaging 13 points per game while leading the league in assists. Reeder also gets plenty of help in the backcourt from sophomore guard Blair Prowse. Meanwhile, in two impressive wins over RMC and Carroll last weekend, MSU-N got a herculean effort from Frontier player of the week Travis Noble. Noble scored 52 points in two games and continuously hit big 3-pointers, all while running the Lights' offense. Noble is currently averaging 16 points per game, to go along with senior Delvaughn Tinned's 21 points per outing, and the duo combine to be top two 3-point shooters in the league. The Lights are also getting solid production on the inside from Drew Pettersen, Clinton Shelton and Derek Trembley, while Shaun Tatarka had a great weekend off the bench for the MSU-N. Tonight's games between MSU-N and Westminster begin with the women taking the floor at 6 p.m. and the men at 8. The Lights and Skylights will also be in Lewiston, Idaho to take on LC State on Saturday night, and all of the action this weekend can be heard on 92.5 KPQX FM.