By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern Skylights will play their first home game of the season Saturday when they take on Black Hills State.
The Skylights opened the season in Canada two weeks ago and won two exhibition games. Last week, they played a scrimmage game. Otherwise, its been just practice.
This is a tough time of year because youre putting in a lot of things, head coach Ray Peters said. Day in and day out youre practicing. It was good to break up practice with the scrimmage.
I was pretty pleased with this team and how theyve shown to this date how they can pick up and learn new things. They really demonstrated that in our scrimmage, Peters said.
Black Hills State has traditionally been an NAIA Division II power. During the past four years, they have been in the national tournament, and two years ago they competed in the championship game.
Theyre not a really big team, but they have above-average players and above-average athleticism, Peters said. They play a lot like us.
Junior college transfer Melissa Braegger will be key player for Black Hills State.
Shes got good size and shes a good shooter, Peters said about the 5-foot-11 off guard. We need to be right on her of shell shoot right over us.
At forward, Nikki Jensen poses a threat with a slash and cut method of scoring, Peters said.
She can really manufacture a shot off the dribble well, Peters said.
Senior Tracy Winjum is a strong point guard for Black Hills.
Shes a very savvy player, Peters said. She can score on the pull up, and if you dont get her, shes going to go by you and finish.
The game will lend itself to an up-tempo, aggressive defense matchup. This will be the first opportunity for the Skylights to see some different looks defensively.
Were going to have to be ready to face a variety of defenses, Peters said. In the past, they have confused teams by changing their defenses.
Freshman Jana Smith, senior Kristine Noel, junior transfer Abby Hjorth, junior Brianne Dunn, and Chinook native Laura Munson will probably get the start for the Skylights, Peters said.
Thats a pretty physically aggressive lineup on both ends of the floor, Peters said. Ive been very pleased early, especially with that lineup, with how weve been able to get the ball down the floor.
Against Lethbridge two weeks ago, Smith and Dunn led the Skylight offensively.
Smith had a game-high 17 points to open the season, while Dunn tallied 13. The following night, the two combined for 30 points en route to the Skylights 78-39 win.
Smith shot 100 percent from the field, going 7-for-7, in the effort.
Smith also grabbed six rebounds, equal to that which Munson, at center, snatched. Munson added seven boards during the second night of play, while Hjorth grabbed five in the matchup.
Noel tallied 10 assists during the first weekend of games.
Anna Fabatz and Kelsey Burgmaier have proven to be stable coming off the bench for the Skylights.
Its big for me to have players come off and give us a lift from the bench, Peters said.
Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.