By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Some might think that they picked up nearly where they left off.
The MSU-Northern Skylights basketball team, who finished seventh in the nation last season, downed Black Hills State 86-83 Saturday at the MSU-Northern gymnasium in the season and home opener.
The Skylights jumped out to a 13-0 lead en route to the win.
I really attribute that to, obviously, our half court offense to start the game, and, when we scored, we were able to pick up full court, said head coach Ray Peters. As a result, we got off to a quick start.
The Skylights full court pressure defense helped cause 24 Yellowjacket turnovers in the game.
Black Hills is a very athletic team, and we did a nice job of really negating that, Peters said.
The Skylights held the Yellowjackets to just 25 first-half points. Northern notched 47 in the half.
The Skylights were led by center Laura Munson of Chinook, who tallied 23 points and snatched 10 rebounds in the contest.
Ive been telling people for awhile now that Laura Munson is a much-improved player, Peters said. Although we run a committee at that position, shes our starting post. She did an incredible job catching the ball and making some good moves.
Munson shot 8-for-12 from the field and 7-for-11 from the free throw line.
Abby Hjorth also turned in a strong offensive effort with 15 points. She went 6-for-13 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line for the Skylights.
Everybody got to play and they all contributed, Peters said.
Anna Fabatz and Myra Bagley both entered the game early after Kristine Noel and Jana Smith collected early-game fouls.
Fabatz finished with seven points and five rebounds, while Bagley notched five points, including a 3-pointer.
Forty-seven (first-half) points talks pretty strongly about our bench and people coming off the bench and coming in and contributing, Peters said. Jennifer Young does a great job containing her person defensively, and she comes in and hits a 3-pointer right off the bench. What a lift when you can come off the bench and people will give you a productive result. The fact that we were able to get out to a big lead and we were able to play a lot of people is very important early on in the season.
Northerns bench tallied 24 points, versus just 14 from the Yellowjackets non-starters. Young finished with three points for the Skylights.
Amanda Schelle had a team-high 19 points to lead the Yellowjackets, while Becky Schultz added 18 in the effort.
Noel, who took last year off to have reconstructive knee surgery, played more than 15 minutes and tallied 11 points and grabbed two steals for the Skylights.
Smith finished with seven points, including shooting 3-for-4 from the foul line.
Brianne Dunn, a returning power from last season, had six points and two steals in the contest.
Im very pleased with this team and how they progressed and how were playing on the ball defensively, Peters said. Were creating some turnovers with our press. Overall for the first game, I thought we executed pretty well.
The Skylights shot 44 percent from the field, casting 70 shots in the game.
From behind the arc, they went 3-for-13 and shot 72 percent from the free throw line.
We had 86 points, and we didnt shoot the ball badly, but we can shoot the ball better, Peters said.
The Skylights, 1-0, host the Skylight Invitational Friday and Saturday.
Were in it now, Peters said. Its nice to be able to go out and have that kind of showing against a quality team.