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Skylights picked third, Lights fourth in Frontier Preseason hoops poll

Frontier basketball returning to back-to-back schedule

 

Last updated 10/14/2020 at 9:11am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

McKenzie Gunter, right, and the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team were picked to finish third in the Frontier Conference Preseason Coaches Poll released Monday. The Northern men were picked fourth. The Lights and Skylights open the season Dec. 5-6 in Billings.

College basketball will be returning to the Hi-Line soon. And Frontier basketball is now just two months away, as the league announced its revised 2020-2021 schedule last week. And Monday afternoon, the Frontier also announced its Preseason Coaches Poll.

In the women's poll, the Montana State University-Northern Skylights, of longtime head coach Chris Mouat, are picked to finish third in the league this season. The Skylights, who began practicing last week, return a veteran, talented group, led by standout point guard McKenzie Gunter and forward Tiara Gilham, as well as returning All-Conference performers Peyton Kehr and Sydney Hovde.

The Carroll women, led by former Blue Pony star Dani Wagner, were picked to win the Frontier title, while Providence was picked second. Rocky Mountain tied Northern for third in the poll, while Montana Western was fifth and Montana Tech sixth.

In the men's poll, the Lights, of longtime head coach Shawn Huse, were picked to place fourth in the league this coming season. Northern returns two-time All-Conference guard Macio McCadney, as well as a host of strong players, mixed with a group of talented newcomers.

Providence was picked to win the league this season followed by Carroll and Montana Tech. RMC was picked fifth and Montana Western was sixth.

This season marks the first year of league play without Lewis-Clark State, which moved back to the Cascade Conference.

As mentioned, the Frontier also announced its updated conference schedule for the upcoming season - a season that will be played during the coronavirus pandemic.

But it isn't just the uniqueness of playing during COVID-19 that will be featured this coming season, it's also a return to the old days for the league.

The conference will play a 20-game regular season this year, but the schedule will feature teams playing each other on back-to-back nights. That's a return to very old days of the Frontier, where Northern fans would pack the Armory Gymnasium on back-to-back nights to watch the Lights and Skylights battle rivals twice in the same weekend.

Now, that schedule is back, though it has been tweaked some. Instead of Friday and Saturday night games, many league games will be contested Saturday night and Sunday afternoons. Other series will be on weekdays as well, as the league figured out ways to play a season alongside the Frontier volleyball season, which was moved from the fall to the spring semester.

For Northern, the season starts Dec. 5-6 with a road trip to Rocky Mountain College. Then, after Christmas break, the Lights and Skylights will make their home debut with Jan. 4-5 games against Carroll College. Those games will be played on a Monday and Tuesday. Northern also travels to Montana Western Jan. 9-10, hosts Montana Tech Jan. 16-17, and Providence Jan. 20.

The second half of the season starts with RMC coming to Havre Jan. 23-24, MSU-N visiting Providence Jan. 30-31, then traveling to Carroll Feb. 6-7, before playing three final home games. Northern hosts Providence Feb. 10, and Western Feb. 13-14. Before wrapping up the regular season at Montana Tech Feb. 20-21.

All night games for conference basketball will tip with the women at 5 p.m. and the men at 7. Day games will start with the women at 2 p.m. and men 4 p.m.

Plans for the postseason have yet to be announced by the league, though the Frontier playoffs would likely begin Feb. 25-26 if that's the route the league chooses. The NAIA also hasn't announced official plans for the winter sports during COVID-19 as of yet, but those announcements should be coming soon.

Frontier Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

Men

Providence (4) 23

Carroll College (2) 22

Montana Tech 17

MSU-Northern 14

Rocky Mountain 9

Montana Western 5

Women

Carroll College (3) 24

Providence (1) 22

MSU-Northern 14

Rocky Mountain 14

Montana Western 10

Montana Tech 6

 
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