By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern Lights get to highlight their basketball talent during two full days of action.
The Lights will face Western Montana College Friday, and, the next night, they will take on Black Hills State at the Townhouse Invitational.
The Lights (4-0) are coming off more than two weeks of practice-only sessions.
"It's been a tough two weeks," head coach Tim Walker said. "We're tired of playing against each other."
Western, who finished second in the Frontier Conference last season, is led by senior Skip Shroeder. Shroeder, a junior college transfer from Miles City, averaged four points, four rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field at Miles Community College.
However, Western lost its most valuable player in Ty Thorn, as well as Jake Gustafson and Robbie Christiaeans to graduation. Western led the league in scoring and field goal percentage last season.
"I think they will be good ball club again," Walker said. "They have some good guards coming back who shoot well."
Six-foot-6 junior Jason Kitts could cause some problems inside for the Lights.
"We need to defend the perimeter really well and, hopefully, bring their shooting percentage down," Walker said.
Northern went 1-3 against Western last season. The one Lights' win came in a 99-89 decision at Dillon early in the season.
Black Hills State could also cause problems inside for the smaller Lights team. Black Hills boasts two players, at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-10, who could post up strong on the block.
However, they are also playing under a first-year coach and have some new recruits learning the system.
"The number one thing we have to concentrate on is coming out and playing extremely hard from the first buzzer Friday night to the last buzzer Saturday night," Walker said.
Offensively, the Lights rely on pressure defense and an up-tempo game. Strong perimeter shooting has also accented the Lights' offense.
Keith Carothers, a junior guard from Helena, nailed six 3-pointers en route to the Lights' 93-58 win over the University of Calgary.
Carothers notched 29 points in the matchup. His next-best offensive effort came at the end of October when he tallied 26 points, connecting on 10-of-15 field goals in a 117-81 rout over the University of Regina.
Michael Claxton, a senior from Chester, had 16 points against Calgary. Claxton has gone 10-for-11 from the free throw line during four games. He also tallied 15 points against Calgary during the second night of play. The Lights won the matchup, 108-78.
Bruce Stacy, a junior from Las Vegas, notched 22 points against Calgary, including six 3-pointers. During an exhibition game against the Sons of Blue Angels, he hit again nailed six 3-pointers and tallied 26 points.
Mel Stubblefield, a junior guard from Washington, can put down the perimeter shot. He put together his best offensive effort against Regina where he had 23 points, and went 8-for-12 from the field.
In the same game, Dustin Endsley, a freshman from Billings, notched 24 points and went 7-for-11 from 3-point land.
JC Linderman and Chad Meyer can also tally the big points for the Lights. Krste Serafimoski, a 6-foot-8 senior, has been out with an injury, but looks to return this weekend.
Powell Becker of Belt has shown early signs of being a team leader for the Lights. Becker has pulled down 15 rebound during four games, and scored a season-high 15 points against Regina.
"If we play extremely hard and play with some confidence, that will be the best thing for us," Walker said.
Friday, Black Hills State meets Montana Tech at 4 p.m., while the Lights ready for Western at 8 p.m. Saturday, the Lights again go at 8 p.m, while Western plays Montana Tech at 4 p.m.