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Finally: Lights make season debut tonight

Northern home games will be played without fans for now, games can streamed on Youtube

 

Last updated 12/11/2020 at 8:26am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Jesse Keltner shoots over the Yellowstone Christian defense in a 2019 game in the Armory Gymnasium. The Lights are finally at home tonight and ready to make their home debut against the Centurions.

The Montana State University-Northern Lights are hoping the third time is a charm. The third time being the Lights are trying to get their 2020-21 basketball season going.

And while they were hoping to do it against an old Frontier Conference rival, Northern, which has had two games against Yellowstone Christian, and two league games against Rocky Mountain College postponed due to COVID-19, already also had a scheduling change this week. But alas, the Lights should finally get a game under their belt. Northern was supposed to play former Frontier stalwart Lewis-Clark State, the sixth-ranked team in the NAIA tonight and Saturday. But, the Warriors decided not to make the trip, so MSU-N was able to get Yellowstone Christian into the Armory for a game tonight.

It's a tough situation for the Lights, who spent much of the week preparing for the star-studded Warriors. But, Northern head coach Shawn Huse said his team needs to play, and they're dealing with the change.

"We have to prep hard in a short amount of time," Huse said. "From what we know right now, they are a very active team with good size and athleticism this year. They do a great job of disrupting your offense with their energy on defense. Coach Santiel does a great job with his guys. Playing games is the best way to be sharp and in game shape. They certainly have the advantage on us there."

Of course, YCC isn't the Warriors, but the small school from Billings does have one thing the Lights don't right now - experience in 2020. YCC, which had to cancel on the Lights last month because of COVID, has played several games this season, including against a pair of Frontier teams and LCSC. The Centurions were also picked up by Montana and Montana State for games, which they'll play in Missoula Saturday and Bozeman Sunday.

Still, the Lights should be heavy favorites tonight, and yet, that's not what's important. What matters is getting a game under their belt, as they should already be four games into what is going to be a challenging year.

This season, the Lights are paced by seniors Mascio McCadney and David Harris leading a new-look squad. Junior Jesse Keltner is also a veteran leader for the Lights, especially in the interior.

Northern, however, is trying to break in a relatively new roster this season, and not being able to play games has made that more difficult, which Huse knows all too well. And yet, at the end of the day, he is just hoping his team gets a chance to take the floor, to see what they're made of, and have some fun.

"Once again, we are very excited about the opportunity to play a game," Huse said. "We know there will be mistakes and a certain amount of fatigue, but we would be very grateful, appreciative and excited if this one happens. Our guys are hungry as ever to play against someone other than their own teammates."

Northern's long-awaited season-opener is set to tip off against Yellowstone Christian tonight at 7:30 p.m. No fans will be allowed inside the Armory Gymnasium, but the game can be viewed by going to http://www.golightsgo.com .

 
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