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South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team, ranked 25th in the final NAIA Div. II rankings, successfully made it through the first round of the Dakota Athletic Conference playoffs with a 66-52 win over the Mayville State Comets this past Wednesday in Rapid City
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team, ranked 25th in the final NAIA Div. II rankings, successfully made it through the first round of the Dakota Athletic Conference playoffs with a 66-52 win over the Mayville State Comets this past Wednesday in Rapid City.
As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Lady Hardrocker will have the opportunity to host the semifinal matchup against the No. 6 Minot State Beavers Saturday at the King Center in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
During the regular season, the ‘Rockers earned a split over the Beavers. In the first meeting on Jan. 6 in Rapid City, South Dakota Mines won on a buzzer-beater, 71-69, when Minot was the sixth ranked team in the nation. On Feb. 9, it was the Beavers that extracted a little revenge, going on a late run to earn the win, 80-73.
“First time we had that last-second shot to beat them. It was a good game that went back-and-forth,” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman. “Our game up there, we had a one-point lead at halftime, and the second half it was pretty much a four-point game that went back and forth again down to the end.”
To be successful in the third installment, the Hardrockers will have to do a lot of the same things they did in their first playoff game against the Comets --- shut things down in the paint.
“They are going to go inside on us. Probably about the same as (Mayville),” Felderman said. “They have got great big posts that they bring in. And they are a very athletic team.”
And for the Beavers, SDM’s scheme won’t be anything the North Dakota squad hasn’t seen before.
��We are just going to do what we do. You kind of risk putting new stuff in, but this time of year there is only so much you can do, especially with a young team.”
The Beavers have a pretty intimidating lineup. Junior guard Kendra Meyer leads the team in scoring, averaging 16 points a game, while senior forward Arrita Oler puts up 13 and sophomore post player Brittni Walker cashes in for 11. The Beavers also utilize the height of senior post Jenny Castro (5-foot-11) and sophomore post Chirsta Suebeck (6-3) to get things going underneath.
The Hardrockers hope to counter with their up-tempo style of play led by juniors Melanie Vedvei, Jennie Malone and Amber DeWeerd.
Vedvei, the 2005-06 DAC MVP, is having another standout season. She leads the team in scoring, (averaging 19 points a game), rebounds (averages 8 boards a game) and steals (averages 4 a game). She is also ranked second in the nation in steals per game and is the league’s top scorer with 546 total markers. Malone has really found her stride as of late and is averaging 12 points and DeWeerd is putting up the same number.
“They are very good leaders. They have been in many competitions and have started for three years,” Felderman said.
Add in freshman Bethany Holyoak (scores 10 points a game) and Madi Hotovec (9 points a game) and SDM, picked to finish fifth in preseason, has a solid lineup. The Hardrockers also have gotten some great contributions off the bench from freshmen Karmen Powell, Nicole Martin and Leah Sundby. “They’ve not played like freshmen all year,” Felderman said. “They’ve been very competitive and they do their jobs.”
Felderman predicted before the start of the season that the conference champion would have four our five DAC losses on their record --- she was right. When asked what she expected from the third encounter with the Minot Beavers, she had a very simple answer.
“In a league like this where there is so much parody, it depends on who executes,” she said.
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