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Lights aim to set a Bear trap

After another cancellation, MSU-N men focus on weekend battles with Rocky

 

Last updated 1/22/2021 at 8:34am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Jomel Boyd, left, tries to drive past a Montana Tech defender during a Frontier Conference men's game last week in Havre. After not getting to play their game against Providence Wednesday night, the Lights now turn their attention to home games against Rocky Mountain College Saturday and Sunday.

COVID-19 certainly keeps messing with the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team. It was almost two months ago that the Lights were supposed to open Frontier Conference play at Rocky Mountain College, only to have the pandemic get in the way.

Then, earlier this week, it happened again, as the Lights' home game with the Providence Argos was canceled because of COVID in the UP program. But with all of the road blocks, Northern continues to forge ahead, and that's what the Lights intend to do this weekend.

Saturday and Sunday, Northern (2-4, 3-4) will host Rocky in a pair of Frontier Conference battles in the Armory Gymnasium. And MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse is looking for his team to put a heartbreaking loss to Montana Tech last Sunday and all of the interruptions to their season behind them.

"We were certainly bummed at not getting to play (Providence)," Huse said. "It is what it is at this point, so we chose to shift our focus on Rocky."

Indeed, the Lights have had their share of being bummed, but on the court, they've also had triumphs. Northern has been in tight battles throughout the season, and, they're getting great leadership from seniors Mascio McCadney and David Harris, who combine to average 34 points per game. Newcomers Jomel Boyd, C.J. Nelson, Allen Sims, Zaire Ruffin and C.J. Nelson have also been outstanding, while the Lights look forward to getting Jesse Keltner back from injury.

Yes, Northern certainly has the firepower to be a force in the Frontier, the Lights just need to get over the hump in the many close games they've been in this season. And they hope to get over the hump against a rebuilding Rocky team.

A season ago, the Bears won just one Frontier game, and they come into this weekend's games at Northern with just one win on the season. Yes, the Bears are going through tough times of late, but that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.

Star guard Darius Henderson leads the Bears with 16 points per night, while Maxim Stephens and Sam Vining also score in double figures. However, Rocky, as a team has struggled overall offensively, as the Bears score just 69 points per night, as well as shoot just 41 percent from the field and 34 percent from three. Rocky has also struggled to stop teams, as the Bears allow 80 points per game.

But the Bears' struggles aren't what Northern is focused on. Huse knows every team in the league can beat each other on a given night, and so he wants his Lights laser-focused as they close out a five-game homestand.

"Rocky, they are as tough as anyone and it will take a solid effort to find success against them this weekend," Huse said.

The Lights and Bears meet Saturday at 7 p.m. and again Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Armory. Northern then goes on the road for four straight.

 
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