The Lake Region State College basketball teams have enjoyed their share of success during the opening part of the 2013-14 campaign. Now, both the men’s and the women’s teams are entering a point in the season where games really start to matter.
Both teams will kick off their Mon-Dak schedules Thursday night in Williston against respective defending regional champions: Williston State College.
Taking points from these games will be crucial to both the men’s and women’s teams, both of whom are well above the 500-mark this season and hope to translate that early success into post-season achievements.
But it all starts on Thursday night for these two groups, and both LRSC head coaches are well aware of the challenge in front of them.
The LRSC men’s basketball team is currently riding a four-game winning streak, yet the Royals haven’t played in a competitive game in nearly a month. Their last win came against Turtle Mountain, a team that the Royals have already beaten twice this year, on Dec. 13 by a final score of 109-66.
They’ll face a much stronger opponent in Williston State, and LRSC head coach Joe Kittell knows it. Williston will also come into Thursday night’s contest having already played six games since Christmas, making rustiness an immediate cause for concern with the Royals.
According to Kittell, the team has had to step up the intensity in practice this week in order to better prepare for Williston, who is 15-4 this season and fresh off a 20-point victory over Miles City, a team that defeated the Royals 92-80 in late November.
Kittell says his guys are fresh and ready to play, and while Williston is a tough team, Kittell is encouraging his players to stay focused and compete.
“They’re a very good team,” Kittell said. “They’ve got some guys that shoot well and hurt you that way. Our biggest thing is going to be coming out and competing hard on the road. It’ll be a good test for us, but what we have to worry about is executing the scouting report for 40 minutes.”
Williston State is averaging 88.9 points per game in its first 19 contests of the season.
The Lady Royals are in a very similar position as the LRSC men.
Poised in a road battle with the defending conference and regional champion is no easy task, and like the men’s team, the Lady Royals haven’t played a competitive game since Dec. 13 against Turtle Mountain.
Page 2 of 2 - Williston hasn’t exbihited the same level of success as their male counterparts this season, recording just a 9-8 overall record. However, LRSC head coach Duane Schwab has indicated that Williston is a hot-and-cold type of team. One night, they play very well, and the next, they don’t.
The Lady Royals are 13-3 this season, which would leave many to assume that they have the upper hand in Thursday night’s Mon-Dak opener, but Schwab knows that his team can lose this game if they aren’t careful.
Williston previously played and defeated the College of Southern Idaho, previously ranked among the top-ten teams in the nation, by a final score of 80-79, in Idaho. But in their most recent game, they lost to Miles City Community College, a team that the Lady Royals beat by almost 30 points in November.
“They’re a funny team, because they’ve been spotty this season,” Schwab said. “Their perimeter game is very strong. They shoot the ball well, and they have good quickness.
“It just depends on the night that you get them. Some nights they shoot it well, and some nights they’re off. We’re gonna have to get after them defensively and put the juice to them, full court. I think we’re deeper than they are, so hopefully that will come into play.”
Leading scorer Sarah Schafer is back with the Lady Royals after recovering from gall bladder surgery, giving the team its first completely healthy roster in over a month.