CSC Teams Return To Action In Denver

Zachary Carlson/CSC Sports Information

Following Christmas break, both Chadron State College basketball teams will return to Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference competition this weekend by playing in the Denver area.

The Eagles will visit Colorado School of Mines in Golden on New Year’s Eve and take on Regis on New Year’s Day. The action will tip off at 2 p.m. both days with the women playing at both opponents. The CSC men will not play at Regis on Saturday, due to Covid protocol, the league announced on Thursday.

The CSC women are 5-6 for the season and 4-2 in the conference. All five victories have come in the Chicoine Center and the losses have been on the road. After being winless in 15 games during last year’s shortened season, there’s much enthusiasm concerning this year’s team.

Coach Janet Raymer believes her team, a mixture of veterans and newcomers, has the potential to challenge for a RMAC playoff spot. The Lady Eagles are currently tied for fifth and sixth in the conference standings.

“We’ve made a lot of progress and we’re getting great leadership from our veterans,” Raymer said while speaking Bailey Brooks and Brittni McCulley, both of whom have completed their undergraduate requirements and are taking graduate courses, and Jori Peters, who is a starter for the fourth season and often plays more than 30 minutes a game.

“They give us everything they’ve got,” the coach added.

Younger players also making a large contribution. Through the first 11 games, the leading scorer is redshirt freshman Shay Powers, who is shooting a team-best 45.7% from the field and is the leading scorer at 13.5 points and rebounder at 6.1 per game.

Transfers admittedly have given the Eagles a big boost. Junior guard Sami Worrell is having an all-star type of season while averaging 12.4 points. She’s been the team’s top scorer in four of the last five games, has tallied at least 20 points in three of them and has assumed some of the ballhandling duties, freeing Peters to play elsewhere on occasion.

Worrell has been particularly impressive from behind the three-point line, where she has sunk 25 of 54 shots for 46.3%, the best in the RMAC.

Other transfers who have earned considerable playing time include guards Emily Achter and Olyvia Pacheco along with forward Riley Aiono.

Raymer said the newcomers are giving the Eagles much more depth, something the team lacked last season.

Also in recent games, Raymer has been rotating Aiono, sophomore Tatum Peterson and true freshman Micheala Dammann in the post area, and also has played two of them at a time on occasion.

“I like to change up the lineup sometimes, going ‘big’ for a while, and then switching to a smaller, faster lineup,” Raymer explained.

If the game is close and time is running out, Dammann will undoubtedly be in the lineup. She made all 13 of her free throws when the Eagles came from behind to beat both Colorado Springs and Highlands by five points in the most recent home games.

The Chadron State men are 6-8 overall and 2-4 in the RMAC. They went 3-0 during their trip to Puerto Rico during Thanksgiving weekend and have defeated Western Colorado and New Mexico Highlands in conference games at home.

Coach Shane Paben was hoping his team would get off to a faster start in RMAC play, but injuries hampered the team’s early progress. Although senior Brady Delimont, one of the most accurate three-point shooters in CSC history, has been lost for the season by a knee injury, others such as highly regarded post players Porter Anderson and Joniya Gadson are now available, giving hope that the Eagles can still qualify for a RMAC playoff spot.

Guard Mason Heimstra, the former Alliance all-stater who has missed all but the first four games of the season because of a severely sprained ankle, also is expected to return to action this weekend. He averaged nine points in the four games he played.

“We still have 16 conference games remaining,” Paben said. “We’ll have to hustle and play well to reach our goals, but I appreciate the opportunity that’s available.”

With so many injuries, four guards have had to carry much of the load so far. They are CJ Jennings, Marcus Jefferson, Teddy Parham and KJ Harris. They are the only players to see action in all 14 games.

Jennings leads the team with a 14.6 scoring average while Jefferson is at 12.3 a game, Parham at 9.4 and Harris at 7.5. Like most guards, each has had some games when they couldn’t seem to miss and others when they almost couldn’t buy a basket, so to speak.

So far the Eagles have made 113 of 308 three-pointers for 36.7%, but they were just nine of 34 from behind the arc in their last two home games.

“We need to make more shots from the outside and also value the ball more,” Paben said with reference to the “more than acceptable” number of turnovers the Eagles have had a few times this winter.

The coach is glad to have the 6-10, 245-pound Gadson and the 6-7, 260-pound Anderson available at last, and has said he believes this year’s team has championship potential.

Both CSC teams have big assignments this weekend.

The Colorado Mines women are 10-1 for the season and at 5-0 are at the top of the RMAC standings. Colorado Mesa is 5-1, CSU-Pueblo and Westminster are both 4-1 while the Eagles and Black Hills State are 4-2. Regis, the second opponent this weekend is 4-2.

The Orediggers women’s only loss so far was a 76-57 decision to Nebraska-Kearney on Nov. 20. Four team members are averaging in double figures, led by 6-foot Denali Pinto at 12 points a game. She was both the RMAC Offensive Player of the Year and the Women’s Academic Player of the Year in 2019-20.

The Regis women are 7-4 overall. They lost to Colorado Mines 78-70 in their RMAC opener, then defeated South Dakota Mines 75-69, Highlands 76-42 and Fort Lewis 68-59 before falling to Western Colorado 77-70 in the last game before the Christmas break.

The Lady Rangers’ top scorers are 5-9 Josey Ryan at 14.2 and 5-4 Tashika Burrell at 10.4 a game.

The Colorado Mines men are 4-5 for the season and 2-3 in the RMAC. In conference play, they have defeated South Dakota Mines 64-42 and Colorado Springs 75-72, but lost to Regis 66-62, Western Colorado 83-78 and Fort Lewis 86-78.

The Orediggers’ leaders include three seniors who have grown up in the program, and had a 22-10 overall record and was 16-6 in the RMAC in 2019-20, the last year there was a full season. They are 6-5 Ben Boone, who is averaging 16.9 points; 6-6 Brendan Sullivan, 15.3; and 6-3 Kobi Betts, 8.8.

A newcomer is 6-10 freshman Adam Krosovec, a native of Budapest, who is averaging 8.3 points while making nine of 16 3-pointers.

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