RMC Basketball Teams are Strong Contenders in Frontier Conference, sports article by Preston Davenport

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When the Montana snow buries the campus of Rocky Mountain College, students can take refuge in the Fortin Education Center for basketball season. The men’s and women’s basketball season is officially underway with both teams off to a good start.

On Jan. 9, the two teams took to the road to take on the Carroll College Saints in Helena. On the men’s side, sophomore forward Jared Samuelson scored 23 points in the Battlin’ Bears 59-54 upset against Carroll. Samuelson made 8 out of 13 field goals. Junior guard Satchel McDonald scored 12 points making 5 out of 8 field goal attempts, junior forward Craig Wilmore scored 9 points making 4 out of 6 field goals, and junior forward Austin Payne scored 7 points making 3 out of 9 field goals.

“We have numerous guys that are helping us,” said head men’s coach Bill Dreikosen. “Chad (Kananen) and Tiegan (Johnson) are our seniors and they have been with the program for five years, and this is Danny Betcher’s third year in the program. These are the guys we can count on every night from that standpoint. And Jared (Samuelson) as a newcomer stepped right in and played a major role for us this year and we look to him every night to be able to be a leader for us also.”

On Jan. 13, the men rallied in the second half at home to beat Montana Tech 65-55. Once again, Jared Samuelson led the Battlin’ Bears scoring 15 points making 4 out of 10 field goal attempts and 7 out of 7 free throw attempts.

“It’s a tough league, you gotta take it one game at a time and you can’t get too high or too low cause you are going to be playing good teams every night,” said Dreikosen. “If you get a win, that’s great, but you have be ready and stay hungry for the next game whether you are playing the number one team in the conference or the team in the bottom of the conference. The conference can easily flip flop in one or two weekends.”

Sophomore guard Latrelle Franklin scored 12 points for the Battlin’ Bears making 4 out of 10 field goal attempts, junior Craig Wilmore scored 7 points making 3 out of 6 field goal attempts, and junior Austin Payne scored 7 points making 3 out of 6 field goal attempts. As a team, the Battlin’ Bears scored 39% of field goal attempts, 26% of three point attempts, and 42% of free throw attempts.

“Our goal is to be in one of the top spots in the Frontier Conference,” said Dreikosen. “And there’s a lot to be determined in that so far. The biggest thing for us is that we still have ability to improve. We have not played our best basketball yet. We have certainly played some good basketball, but not our best. Overall we can improve with multiple guys stepping up on any given night as we get ready for the second half of Frontier Conference play. We talked a lot about that this week going back on the road, and do we want to be pretenders or contenders, and in order for us to be contenders we have to be able to win games on the road.”

The men would fall in the first of their four road trip games. No. 8 Lewis & Clark State would top the Battlin’ Bears 69-55 on January 18. Sophomore Jared Samuelson led the men on thursday night with 14 points, making 3 field goals and all 4 free throw attempts. Junior Satchel McDonald scored 13 points making 6 of 8 field goal attempts, and Junior Danny Betcher scored 8 points making 4 field goals.

The men would bounce back from the road loss in Lewiston and take a win in Dillon against Montana Western on January 20. The 85-75 win over the no. 16 Bulldogs is Rocky’s third win over a ranked opponent so far this season. Samuelson led the bears with 24 points on the scoreboard, making 10 field goals and 3 free throws. Senior Chad Kananen scored 16 points with 6 field goals and 4 three pointers, and Junior Austin Payne scored 14 points with 5 field goals and 3 three pointers. As a team Rocky was 46% on field goal attempts, 42% on three point attempts, and 80% on free throw attempts.

Currently, the men stand at 4-4 in conference play and 12-7 on the season. They will take to the road again next week to take on Montana Tech on January 26 and no. 10 Carroll College on January 27.

On the road, the women’s team fell short of continuing their winning streak with a 58-56 overtime loss to Carroll College. Junior forward Brooke Jones lead the women; scoring 18 points for the Battlin’ Bears scoring 6 out of 15 field goal attempts and 4 out of 5 three point attempts. Senior guard Mikayla Jones scored 12 points making 4 out of 9 field goal attempts. Junior guard Alecia Chamberlain scored 9 points making 3 out of 3 field goal attempts, and sophomore forward Markaela Francis scored 9 points making 2 out of 5 field goal attempts.

“We start out every game worrying about what we need to do rather than worrying about our competition. As long as we play together and in sync then I look forward to a great rest of the season with this team” said Junior Justyn Juhl. “I think we have a unique group this year where everyone has in one way or another leadership attributes about them. When it comes down to it everyone who gets playing time has a significant role on the team. We take the seaon one step at a time. It is hard to tell where this team can go but from what I can see I see a bright future. We take it game by game but our ultimate goal is to win the conference.”

The women bounced back from their road loss at home with a 60-52 win over Montana Tech on Jan. 13. Jones led the team with 14 points making 5 out of 14 field goal attempts and 4 out of 5 free throw attempts. Francis scored 12 points making 6 out of 10 field goal attempts, junior forward Justyn Juhl scored 10 points making 4 out of 7 field goal attempts, and Senior forward Eboney Jackson scored 6 points making 3 out of 5 field goal attempts. As a team, the Battlin’ Bears scored 45% of field goal attempts, 10% of three point attempts, and 50% of free throw attempts. The women currently stand at 4-2 in conference play and 14-2 overall and are undefeated at home.

The women’s basketball team opened up the first of four road games with a 66-57 win over Lewis & Clark State. Rocky was ranked no. 18 going into the game. Markaela Francis led the way scoring a career high of 24 points, with 8 field goals and 7 free throws. Hailee Farstveet scored 14 points with 5 field goals and 2 three pointers, and Alecia Chamberlain scored 9 points with 4 field goals.

The women’s basketball team would not be able to keep the momentum going in Dillon the following game, as they would fall to the Montana Western Bulldogs 57-64. Brooke Jones led the team scoring 16 points with 6 field goals and 4 free throws. Hailee Farstveet scored 13 points with 5 field goals and 2 three pointers, and Markaela Francis scored 10 points with 5 field goals. As a team, the women made 37% of field goal attempts, 21% of their three point attempts, and 56% of their free throw attempts.

“Our preparation for the upcoming games against Tech and Carroll are to bring the energy, execute every possession, and limit our turnovers.” Juhl went on to say.

The women stand at 5-3 in the conference and 15-3 overall. They look to make adjustments for the second half of their road trip games. Their following opponents will be Montana Tech on January 26 and no. 10 Carroll College on January 27.

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