Two games are all that stand between the Montana State University- Northern men's basketball team and the Frontier Conference postseason. Tonight at 8, the No. 20 Lights (8-4, 20-8) host Rocky Mountain College (5-7,10-17). Then, Northern will wrap up regular season play Saturday night at home against Carroll College (5-7, 12- 14). Northern comes into the weekend with a chance to tie UM-Western for second place in the Frontier standings, and the Lights, having swept the Bulldogs this season, would have the tiebreaker, and with it, would host possibly two conference playoff games. But first things first. The Lights come into the weekend off a split on the road last week, and tonight, they'll take a struggling RMC team. But the Bears are still the defending NAIA champions and they have a win over Northern already this season. Rocky is led by point guard Nate Richardson and center Anthony Allen, but the Bears' supporting cast has played well at times as well this season. On Saturday night, MSU-N welcomes a Carroll team which has also been reeling a bit down the stretch. MSU-N beat the Saints in overtime in Helena earlier this season, and a win on Saturday would go long way towards MSU-N's postseason aspirations. Carroll has perhaps the toughest player in the Frontier to guard in 6-5 sophomore Andy Garland, one of the league's leading scorers and rebounders. But the Saints, a young team under first-year coach Brandon Veltri, have also struggled to find offense at times this year. Still, despite overall and conference records, Northern head coach Shawn Huse knows exactly what his team is up against this weekend. "Rocky are a very athletic team with good size. They are still capable of beating anybody this year despite not hovering around the top of the League record-wise," Huse said. "We know they beat us last time we matched up and that we'll need to defend better if we are going to have success at home. "The Saints have several good shooters at most positions which makes defending them very tricky," he added. "If they are allowed open looks, they have the capability to beat anyone anywhere. We know we are capable of getting them as we did in Helena but are also very aware it will take a complete team effort." Saturday night is also senior night for MSU-N and it will be an emotional one. The Lights will say goodbye to seniors Andrew Sellars, Clay Greenland, Walynn Burgess, Justin Dennis and Brian Santiago. Together, the group has amassed a ton of wins, toptwo finishes in the Frontier and a trip to the NAIA national tournament last season. The group will certainly be missed although there with MSU-N ranked in the NAIA Top 25 this late in the season, they will all still have plenty of basketball left to play. "This has been a very special group of Seniors. They really get along very well, look after one another in every situation and all want nothing but the best things for each other both off and on the court," Huse said. "Four of them played a part in our run to Kansas City last year. And along with the fifth (Justin Dennis), they have done nothing but talk of, and work towards, getting another chance to complete unfinished business. They pushed this team into another twenty-win season and put themselves back into a position to possibly reach that goal. I am very pleased with this group of seniors. Collectively they represent our team, school and community very well and I could not be prouder." Tonight's game between the Lights and Bears will tip off at 8 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse. Saturday night's game between MSU-N and Carroll will also get underway at 8 p.m.
Lights brace for big games
MSU-N wraps up league play with Rocky, Carroll at home
Published: Friday, February 26th, 2010
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