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After earning two wins before Christmas Break to improve its record to 9-5 for the season, the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will test its luck this weekend at the NAIA Shootout in Las Vegas, Nev.
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After earning two wins before Christmas Break to improve its record to 9-5 for the season, the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will test its luck this weekend at the NAIA Shootout in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Lady Hardrockers put together a three-day tournament in which teams from across the nation (both NAIA Div. 1 and 2) can matchup with each other in high-powered competition.
Along with South Dakota School of Mines, Dakota Wesleyan (Mitchell) and Valley City State will also attend from this region. The will be taking on teams such as Campbellsville University out of Kentucky, Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma), Madonna University of Livonia, Mich., and College of St. Mary’s out of Omaha, Neb.
The Lady Hardrockers will see action against the Madonna Crusaders Friday and then square off with the highly touted Oklahoma City Stars Saturday in an exhibition game.
In Friday’s matchup against Madonna, the Crusaders enter with a 4-9 record and ranked 32nd as a team in NAIA Div. II in three-pointers made per game (6.231) and are 46th in turnover margin (6.231). Madonna seems to be a bit similar to South Dakota Mines in the fact that they don’t possess a lot of veteran players.
The Lady Crusaders have one senior in Lindesay Klemmer (Plymouth, Mich.), but the core of the team lies in the junior class as the Crusaders roster five. The top athletes of that crop is Martina Franklin, a 5-foot-10 inch forward from Redford, Mich. Franklin leads the team in scoring with 144 total points on the season and averages 16 each game. She also is the squad’s top rebounder with 68 total boards averaging 7.56 a game. She also has four double doubles this season. Madonna also has four sophomores and two freshmen. They are still in the learning phases of a new system instilled by first-year head coach Carl Graves.
Saturday’s bout will prove to be a very tough test for the Hardrockers. Even though the game is only an exhibition, it will still be interesting to see how SDM’s mettle matches up with the NAIA Division I No. 2 ranked team.
The Stars are ranked first in the nation in scoring defense per game (47.444), first in scoring margin (34.444), second in total rebound margin (13.889), third in offensive rebounds per game (18.444), fourth in total rebound defense (30.111), sixth in scoring offense per game (81.889) and sixth in turnover margin (9.667). Oklahoma City is also ranked eighth three other categories and ninth in one other.
The Stars are currently 10-0 on the season and roster a lineup full of experience and height. The Stars have just two senior on the squad, followed by five juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. The women range in height from 5-7 to 6-4, with four of those players above the 6-foot mark.
That group also brings a vast amount of experience to the table as the NAIA Div. I national runners-up for the previous three seasons. The Stars have won the Div. I tournament consecutively from 1998-2002.
The Stars have five players that average over 10 points each game with senior Alexandra Kotta (5-11 forward from Germantown, Md.) leading the way with 17.11 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 6.11 a game and is the steal leader with a 3.11 average. Sophomore Chelsey Ledbetter (5-8 guard from Norman, Okla.) is also having a good season, averaging 11.67 points each game. She is ranked 14th in the nation in assists per game, averaging five.
The Stars are coached by second-year head coach Rob Edmission. Edmisson brings 15 years of head-coaching experience and 300 wins to the bench in his second season at Oklahoma City University. In 2006-07, Edmisson led the Stars to an NAIA Division I quarterfinals finish, their seventh consecutive Sooner Athletic Conference regular-season championship and the conference tournament title. Before OCU, Edmisson spent three years as an assistant at Oklahoma State.
The Hardrockers will have quite a test.
After defeating Midland Lutheran College and Concordia University, South Dakota School of Mines will have to elevate their level of play yet again to compete with some quality programs. SDM is currently ranked nationally in eight different categories at the NAIA Div. II division including seventh in turnover margin (6.733) and 10th in total rebound defense (32).
The ‘Rockers are on quite a surprising roll, rostering just three juniors and seven freshmen. Last season’s Dakota Athletic Conference MVP Melanie Vedvei has picked up where she left off last year. She is currently third in the NAIA with steals per game (4.214) and 10th in the nation in points per game (20.357) as well as 28th in assists per game (4.714) and 39th in defensive rebound per game (5.857). She has a total of 285 points to lead the Rockers and also paces the team in total rebounds with 106.
The Hardrockers have two other players that are averaging over 10 points a game in junior Amber DeWeerd and freshman Madi Hotovek. DeWeerd has 164 total points on the season and Hotovek has tallied 154 this year. Freshman Bethany Holyoak has also impressed this year, recording 17 blocks on the season which ranks her 41st in Div. II in blocks per game (1.2140.
The Hardrockers will square off with Madonna Friday in a 1 p.m. game and then take on Oklahoma City Saturday also at 1 p.m.
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