Eagles To Open Basketball Slate Again With Texas Challenge

For the fifth time, the Chadron State College basketball teams will open their seasons by playing teams from Texas A&M—Kingsville and International–in an inter-conference challenge.

              The unique arrangement dates back to the 2017-18 season, when the women’s teams met in Nebraska and the CSC men’s teams traveled to Texas for back-to-back contests the second weekend of November.  The traveling flips back and forth each season.  The games were not played in 2020-21 because of COVID.

This year, the Chadron State women will be at home both Friday and Saturday, while the Eagles’ men will be visiting Texas A&M International at Laredo for their first game on Friday at 6 p.m. and move across the southern tip of Texas 118 miles to the east to play at Kingsville at 3 p.m. Saturday (MT).  

The Lady Eagles will meet Kingsville at 5:30 p.m. Friday and International at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Chicoine Center.

The Chadron State women are 4-4 in their challenges with the Texas quintets while the Texas teams hold a 7-1 lead in the men’s series.  The Texans swept all four games last season, when the Lady Eagles were the visitors in Texas and the CSC men played in Chadron.

As is generally the case, both Chadron State coaches hope their teams will be improved.  The women were 7-19 and the men were 10-17 a year ago while experiencing a spate of injuries that stifled their chances of having at least a .500 record. 

The women’s team returns its two of its three most productive players from a year ago in 5-10 Shay Powers, who led in both scoring at 13.9 points and rebounding at 6.0 per game, and 5-6 Samiyah Worrell, who averaged 11.8 points and was the team’s leading 3-point shooter, making 53 treys while shooting 35.3% from behind the arc. 

However, after supplying lots of energy while playing at least 30 minutes a game for four years, Jori Peters is now attending law school.

Coach Janet Raymer’s team also returns four others who were in the primary rotation last season, along with several redshirts who are striving to break into the lineup. Fans are anxious to see if Awoti Akoi, a 6-3 transfer, can give the Eagles a big boost around the basket.

A couple of large school all-staters from Wyoming, 6-footer Megan Counts of Green River and 5-8 Allison Olsen of Douglas, both true freshmen, have joined the team.

Raymer said she plans to use numerous players in the early games, but admits there’s no way she can get all 22 of them on the court. It’s highly unusual that 14 of the 15 players who were added to the roster a year ago are on the team again. 

The CSC men’s team has had a big turnover in personnel.  Only three of the 10 who saw action in at least 16 games a year ago are on the roster again, and one of them, Gage Delimont, has a shoulder injury that will keep him from playing until perhaps 2023.

The other two returnees are keepers.  They are senior point guard Marcus Jefferson, who is beginning his third season at CSC, and 6-7 junior center Porter Anderson.  Jefferson averaged 12.7 points and led the team in assists, steals and free throw shooting at 81.2% (78-95) last season.  Anderson missed several games with injuries, but shot 63% (68-111) from the field and was 42-52 from the line.

Coach Shane Paben, who will be making his first trip to Texas for the challenge, has added 10 transfers to his roster.  Most are from junior colleges where they were team leaders and averaged in double-figures in scoring.

Paben said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen of his new crew.  He noted that all will have the opportunity to contribute, and he expects to learn more about them during this weekend’s trip.

Both of the Texas women’s teams are coming off solid seasons.  The International women were 18-11 and the Kingsville coeds were 17-11.

Kingsville has returned sophomore guards Jayde Tschritter and Mia Rivers, who scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, against CSC a year ago on their home court.  Senior Brianna Pena scored nine and averaged 9.1 points, the most among the returning Javelinas.

International’s top player a year ago was 6-1 junior Rai Brown, a native of New York who scored 19 against the Eagles and averaged 16.4 for the season.  The Dustdevils also return 5-8 Emily Swiercz and 6-0 Clara Fernandez, who scored 17 and 13 points, respectively, vs. CSC last November. Both averaged 10 for the season.

The International men were 13-14 last winter. Senior Jermaine Drewey led them against the Eagles by scoring 21 points while sinking five of six 3-pointers in the Chicoine Center. In addition, grad student Greg Bowie scored 13 points in that game and averaged 15 for the year.  Both are on the roster again.

The Kingsville men had an 18-11 record in 2021-22, but no longer have Derek Luna, who poured in 28 points in the Chicoine Center last Nov. 13.  The returnees include 5-9 C.J. Smith and 6-3 Marcus Jones-Green, both of whom averaged 12 points for the season.

Both Chadron State teams will be playing at home next week.  The women will greet Wayne State on Wednesday and Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday, both at 5:30.  The men will host Sioux Falls at 2 p.m. Saturday and play again on Tuesday, Nov. 22 in Chicoine against the Kearney Lopers.  

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