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New-look MSU-N men gelling quickly


Junior Shaun Tatarka and sophomore Devin Jackson are the only two MSU-Northern Lights who had ever played rivals Dickinson State and Minot State before Friday afternoon.

With no returning starters and almost an entire roster full of new players, this weekend's games between Frontier Conference and DAC rivals at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse could have gone either way.

But the Lights played like a team which has been here before and they came away with a sweep of the Blue Hawks and Beavers — something that doesn't happen to MSU-N every year. And with two more wins in tow, the Lights are now off to a 4-1 start to a season which had a lot of question marks just four weeks ago, and Tatarka said things are coming together quickly.

"I think we're really starting to gel as a team, on and off the court," the former Great Falls High All-State star who combined for 35 points and eight 3-pointers in MSU-N's two wins this weekend said. "Devin and I have been helping the new guys understand just how big these games are and how good these teams we're playing are, and the guys really came to play this weekend. This was a big step for us this weekend, and these two wins, after we responded so well to a loss on the road last weekend really gives us a lot of confidence. It's really coming together."

Coming together indeed.

The Lights are trying to put together a brand new team and have it ready to be at its best when the Frontier Conference season rolls around in January. And beating three DAC schools in two weeks is an excellent start, and Tatarka said a big reason why is the team's chemistry, which hasn't taken long to form.

"This weekend was a perfect example of this team really playing well as a whole," Northern head coach Shawn Huse added. "In both games, especially in critical moments, you saw us really sharing the basketball, really playing unselfishly, and everyone had an important hand in both wins. That's really good to see this early, especially from such a new group.

"We're a tight-knit group on the court already," Tatarka added. "But we are off it as well. We have each other's backs out on the court and we're really building some good chemistry. And that helped us get two big wins this weekend, and knowing that we're coming together this early, it just gives us that much more confidence going forward to play more of these really good teams."

Next up for the Lights will be battles with NAIA stalwarts Robert Morris and Vanguard this weekend in Las Vegas. The Lights' next six games are on the road, including a date with No. 1 Azusa Pacific next month. MSU-N isn't home again until Dec. 21.

Lights 75, Dickinson State 68

DSU — Dano Fagerlund 1-1 2-3 4, John Hanstad 1-5 0-1 2, Matt Lee 8-14 2-8 18, Jarek Hansen 1-2 0-0 2, Tevin Hurd 4-7 0-1 8, Robbie Morey 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Lebsock 7-17 5-6 21, Jeff Hurd 5-10 2-2 13, Zach Edward 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 11-21 68.

MSU-N — David Maddock 2-6 3-4 9, Devin Jackson 4-10 2-4 12, Jordan Harris 1-1 0-0 2, Shaun Tatarka 5-16 3-4 17, LaVon Myers 4-10 2-2 12, Joe Simpson 3-4 2-5 8, Sean Kelly 3-8 2-2 8, Chris Brown 2-6 1-1 5, Ben Mitchell 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 24-62 17-24 75.

Lights 85, Minot State 55

MSU — Kal Bay 4-10 0-1 10, Gary Heitkamp 2-3 0-0 4, Kelvin Fraser 1-1 1-2 3, Milos Jercotijevic 1-1 2-2 4, Jonas Pollard 2-5 1-1 5, Anthony Enriquez 0-2 4-3 4, Cam Malzer 0-1 0-0 0, Jason West 1-8 2-4 4, Bojan Janjic 3-5 6-7 12, Nathaniel Packineau 2-8 0-0 6. Totals 17-46 17-22 55.

DSU — David Maddock 5-8 3-3 17, Devin Jackson 4-9 0-0 11, Jordan Harris 1-3 1-2 3, Shaun Tatarka 7-13 0-0 18, LaVon Myers 5-15 2-2 13, Joe Simpson 3-4 2-2 8, Sean Kelly 3-6 2-2 8, Chris Brown 2-2 1-2 5, Ben Mitchell 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 31-61 11-13 85.


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