Havre Daily News - News you can use

Armory Nights: Skylights will fight against Warriors, Dawgs

 

January 26, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Jessica Curl and the Montana State University-Northern Skylights will look to break a six-game losing streak when they host Lewis-Clark State tonight. The Skylights play UM-Western Saturday.

The Montana State University-Northern Skylights are going through a rough stretch right now, as rough as they've had it in some time. And things got even tougher when Northern found out earlier this week it will be without star senior Jacy Thompson for the remainder of the season.

And yet, two things the Skylights know for sure: 1' They'll keep fighting, and 2' Their opponents will have no sympathy.

Both of those factors will be in play tonight when Northern (1-7, 9-10) hosts No. 23 Lewis-Clark State (3-5, 12-7) inside the Armory Gymnasium, before taking on the UM-Western Bulldogs (4-4, 14-6) Saturday night. Both games tip at 6 p.m.

Northern, which has lost six straight Frontier games, just played the Bulldogs and Warriors two weeks ago on the road, falling at LCSC 77-61 and at Western 78-58. So, the Skylights know things just won't get any easier.

"It's tough," MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. "But we just have to keep moving forward, keep working hard and stay unified. We know what we need to do to play better, and we will continue to work on those things, and it starts with practice. But no question, we have two very, very good teams coming into our place this weekend, and we'll have to play very well for a full 40 minutes in both games."

The Skylights must do it without Thompson, an NAIA All-American and former Frontier Defensive Player of the Year. But MSU-N has been injury-riddled all season long, so being short-handed is also not new to the Skylights. They'll lean heavily on seniors Brandy Lambourne, who has averaged more than 17 points per game over her last four outings, as well as junior Peyton Filius, their leading scorer, and sophomore Shiloh McCormick. Kealani Sagapolu and Jessica Curl will be key in the post, as they combine for 15 points and 14 rebounds per game, while young players like Naomi Terry, Lily Hilderbrand, Tiara Gilham and Peyton Kehr will see an increased role as well.

As for their opponents this weekend, the Skylights know they'll have their hands full.

The Warriors were once ranked in the NAIA Top 10, but injuries have led to a rare three-game losing streak for LC, a team that went to the NAIA championship game a season ago.

Still, with talents like Brittany Tackett (6-0) and Jossilyn Blackman (6-3) in the paint, and star freshman point guard Peyton Souvenir (5-8), the Warriors are a dynamic team, and are still a major Frontier Conference power, in spite of their latest struggles.

"They've (Warriors) had two really tough injuries," Mouat said. "They had two really good players go down, so they've been dealing with that. But at the same time, they still have great size, great speed, great shooters and a ton of talent and athleticism.

"So while they've gone through a tough stretch," he added. "We know how dangerous they are. They have Brittany Tackett, who is an All-American, and Jossilyn Blackman is a beast on the inside. They have shooters with great range, and their defensive pressure is something that's always really tough to handle. They have a ton of depth as well, they just keep bringing in talented players, so they're a handful. And we expect to come in here feisty and ready to go, so we have to be ready to go ourselves. We've got to be ready to compete right away."

And if playing an angry LCSC squad wasn't tough enough, the Skylights will turn right around and play a Western team that has the NAIA National Player of the Week in star guard Bri King (5-5), who averages 18 points per game, and is an absolute scoring machine.

But King isn't a one-woman show either. Western has 11 players who average more than 10 minutes per game, making head coach Lindsey Woolley's club one of the deepest in the Frontier. Cierra Lamey (5-10) and Britt Cooper (5-10) are strong compliments to King in the post, and the Bulldog's depth allows them to play tenacious defense, as they lead the Frontier in scoring defense, allowing just 56 points per night, while scoring 71 a game on offense.

"They're (Bulldogs) playing really well right now, they've had some big, big wins," Mouat said. "Coach Woolley has done such a great job with that program. Bri (King) really makes them go, but they just have so much depth and talent around her.

"They are a little like us, they are undersized," Mouat added. "But they get after it on the boards. They really hurt us on the offensive glass in Dillon. So that's one area we've got to do a better job against them this time. But they're really good, and we know we'll have our hands full with them, too."

In the Frontier, every team has their hands full, at home or away. The league is just that good. And that's what makes trying to break out of a slump in the league so tough, like the Skylights will try to do this weekend. There are just no easy nights. And yet, Northern has shown it can play with anybody in the league, or the NAIA for that matter, and the Skylights will look to use their great home court advantage to do that this weekend. In other words, they'll keep battling, no matter what adversity is staring them in the face.

"We're going to keep fighting. We won't ever give up, we'll never quit," Sagapolu said. "These are two good teams, but I know coach will have us ready to play, and I think we just need to fix the little things that have hurt us. If we do that, and we just play our game, do what we do, things will get better. But we'll never stop fighting."

Tonight's game between the Skylights and Warriors gets started at 6 in the Armory, as does Saturday night's game between Northern and Western. The Skylights won't be back at home again until Feb. 16.

Skylights vs No. 23 LCSC tonight, 6 p.m.; vs Western, Saturday, 6 p.m.

In Armory Gymnasium

Radio: 92.5 KPQX

Streaming: msun.edu/athletics

Twitter: HavreDaily

Skylights Projected Starters

G Brandy Lambourne 5-5 SR 11 ppg

G Shiloh McCormick, 5-9, So. 12 ppg

G Peyton Filius 5-6 JR 13 ppg

F Kaelani Sagapolu 5-11 SR 7 ppg

F Jessica Curl 6-1 JR 8 ppg

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018