The Chadron State College basketball teams close out the Old Year on the road this weekend in Colorado’s high country.
The Eagles will play the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks in Durango on Friday night and tangle with the Adams State Grizzlies in Alamosa on Saturday night. The CSC quintets will finally play at home for the first time in more than a month when they entertain Colorado Mesa and Western State on Jan. 5 and 6.
It’s been a rough December for the Eagles. Both teams have won only one of their six Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference games since that schedule opened on Dec. 1 and the women also lost at the University of Sioux Fals on December 19, giving both quintets 3-9 records at the mid-point of their schedules.
Are brighter days ahead? The coaches seem to think so, but the Eagles are expected to be the underdogs in three of the four games this weekend.
The Friday night assignments will likely be the toughest.
The Fort Lewis women are 10-1 overall, falling only to defending RMAC champion CSU-Pueblo 63-48 to open the conference slate. They are averaging 72.8 points a game, nearly 20 more than their foes are averaging.
The Skyhawks men are potent. They are averaging 91.2 points a game, highest in the conference, and are enjoying a 12.5-point winning margin. They are shooting 51 percent from the field and all five starters are averaging in double figures.
The Adams State men also can rack up the points. They’re averaging 86.8 per game, but they also give up a lot of points—89.8 a game. They are 4-7 overall with all four wins in RMAC play.
Four Grizzlies are averaging in double digits, led by 5-10 Brandon Sly at 19.3 a game and 6-4 Shane Johnson at 18.6. Both are shooting at least 50 percent from the field and Sly is dishing out nearly six assists a game.
The Adams State women are just 2-8 for the season and 0-6 in the RMAC.
Because they have been beset by injuries, both Chadron State teams needed the Christmas break.
Men’s coach Houston Reed said last week that nearly every member of his team was nursing some sort of a muscle or joint ailment.
Women’s mentor Janet Raymer also has a long list of players with various injuries that have limited their playing time.
Point guard Jaisean Jackson, is the CSC men’s leading scorer through 12 games with an 11-point average. He’s also handed out more assists (47) than he’s had turnovers (38).
Second on the scoring chart is Scottsbluff freshman Dru Kuxhausen at 10.8 points. He missed the two most-recent games because of the hip injury he sustained after scoring 28 points vs. Metro State the previous contest.
The Eagles also have gotten good production from transfer Jeremy Ruffin, who is averaging 8.1 points, is the top rebounder at 6.7 a game and has earned praise from Reed for his defensive prowess.
The coach also commends Chadron native Vonsinh Sayaloune for his gritty play.
“He’s doing everything thing you can expect at both ends of the court,” Reed said. “What a tough kid.”
The Eagles are averaging 65.6 points a game and giving up 74.2 while shooting 43.3 percent from the field, including 36.2 percent from 3-point range. They are even with their foes in rebounding, but their 175 turnovers are 29 more than the opponents’.
The Eagle women have been outscored 68.9 to 60.9 points a game. They are shooting 37.6 percent from the field, a percentage point better than their rivals, but are lagging on 3-point shooting. They have made just 28.4 percent from behind the arc and the opponents have sunk 87 treys, 30 more than CSC.
The women’s team’s major bugaboo, particularly in recent games, has been turnovers. They’ve had at least 20 in each of the last four contests and are averaging 19.2 for the season compared to the foes’ 13.8.
Senior Kalli Feddersen is the team’s only double-figure scorer at 13.2 points a game, even though her field goal shooting has not been up to par. She’s also leading the Eagles in rebounding at 8.2 a game, fifth highest in the RMAC and perhaps the best in the country for a 5-8 guard.
The Eagles also have gotten excellent play from freshmen Brooke Turek of Hemingford and Jessica Harvey of Morrill. Turek is averaging nearly nine points a game and Harvey eight, second and third best on the team. Both have displayed lots of energy and determination at both ends of the court and appear to have bright futures.
Raymer is hoping that promising sophomore transfer Jessica Lovitt of Mullen, who has battled a combination of shoulder, ankle and rib injuries the entire season, will be healthier the second half of the season.