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Frontier Notebook: Saints heading to Havre on a hot streak

Frontier Conference Notebook

 

February 13, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Jessica Curl, right, battles with Carroll College's Hannah Dean during a Frontier Conference game in Havre back in December. The Skylights beat the Fighting Saints that night, but the Carroll women come to Havre Friday riding a four-game winning streak and alone in first place in the Frontier. The Carroll men also come to the Armory Gymnasium with a five-game winning streak.

The home stretch is upon us in Frontier Conference basketball. In just two week's time, the regular season will be over and the Frontier playoffs will begin, with bids to national tournaments on the line.

Peaking in February is always what it's about in conference basketball, and right now, no one is peaking as well as the Carroll College Fighting Saints are.

On the men's side, Carroll has been able to overcome what could have been a disastrous start to January when the Saints lost four games in two weeks. Now however, Carroll, which was picked to win the league crown, has won five straight heading into road games at Providence and MSU-Northern this weekend. Ryan Imhoff has been the driving force for Carroll all year, but players like former Havre Blue Pony Dane Warp are starting to really make the Saints what everyone else in the Frontier has always feared - a very deep and talented team. Warp is scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds per night, as one of the Saints' top reserves.

But it's not just the Carroll men that are making waves. The Saints are also rolling on the women's side, too. The Carroll women have won four straight league games, which has vaulted the Saints into first place in the women's standings. Like the men, the Carroll women are getting a big boost from a former Blue Pony, in red-shirt freshman Dani Wagner, who has started this season, and averages four points and four rebounds in her 16 minutes per game for the Saints.

Yes, other teams in the league are impressive, too. The UM-Western men and women are both in the race for conference titles this season, and the Rocky Mountain College women have been a force all season long, as have the Lewis-Clark State men. But, it's becoming pretty obvious that, if anyone is going to win the Frontier men's and women's titles this season, they're going to have to go through Helena to do it.

Big battles with Bears

Speaking of Rocky, that's Northern's opponent Saturday night as the Lights and Skylights begin a three-game home stand. On the women's side, the Bears own two wins over the Skylights this season, and Rocky has made a huge jump in conference play. Last year, the Bears finished sixth in the Frontier, and going into Saturday night's game in the Armory Gymnasium, they're just one game out of first place. The rubber game with the Skylights will be a big one, too, as Rocky has beaten Northern twice this season, but MSU-N is coming off a huge road win at LC State, so Friday's game should be an exciting one.

Rocky's men have been much like Northern's men this season - up and down. Both the Lights and Bears are coming off close, heartbreaking losses last weekend, with the lights falling at LCSC and the Bears losing an intense battle with Carroll. The two rivals image each other as well, as they're both strong defensive teams, but with capable big men. While Northern center Ryan Reeves is having a monster season for the Lights, so is former Montana Grizzly Jared Samuelson, who is second in the Frontier in both scoring, 18 ppg, and rebounding, 8.1 per game.

Northern and Rocky are also locked in an intense battle for fourth place in the Frontier standings, with the Bears in the lead right now. However, the Lights have beaten Rocky twice this season, so they'll hold the tiebreaker over the Bears no matter what happens Saturday night. And yet, Saturday night's game is a big one because it's looking like the Lights and Bears are going to meet up in the playoffs in three weeks, and it will all come down to who has homecourt advantage when that game comes.

Frontier Honors

UM-Western forward Cierra Lamey was named the Frontier Conference Women's Player of the Week. Lamey is a 5-10 forward from Wise River, who averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in Western's wins over MSU-Northern and Providence.

Carroll College's Ryan Imhoff was named Frontier Men's Player of the Week. Imhoff is a 6-6 senior from Napa, California. He averaged 27 points and seven rebounds in Carroll's sweep of Montana Tech and Rocky Mountain College last weekend.

MSU-Northern's Ryan Reeves was also nominated for the men's award this week.

 

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