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After posting an impressive 71-62 win to open the season this past Sunday over the University of Great Falls, the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will take a trip East River to square off with old SDIC foes Mount Marty College and Dakota Wesleyan University
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After posting an impressive 71-62 win to open the season this past Sunday over the University of Great Falls, the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will take a trip East River to square off with old SDIC foes Mount Marty College and Dakota Wesleyan University.
While the Lady Hardrockers have a game under their belts, this weekend marks the season opener for both Mount Marty and DWU.
Looking at Friday’s game against the Lancers, having eight freshmen on the roster for Mines, having already played a game is a good thing --- especially against an experienced team such as the Lancers.
“They have a tremendous team coming back,” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman. “They have probably eight key players returning and they love to run and play pressure the full length of the court and the full length of the game. They are very balanced as far as their scoring. All those things kind of end up being a pretty tough opponent.”
The Lady Lancers biggest threat appears to be their senior captain Teven Wenbourne. The 5-foot-7-inch junior from Aberdeen was named the Great Plains Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season as well as a GPAC first team selection.
“They are not real big either, so we should match up pretty evenly with them. Their point guard was their conference defensive player of the year so that should be a pretty good matchup,” Felderman said referring to Wenbourne pitted against SDM’s Melanie Vedvie – the Dakota Athletic Conference MVP last year.
Mount Marty also has a couple good senior players in Amy Bigge (6-0 forward) and Brandi Trudeau (5-8 guard) along with juniors Carrie Ahlers (5-10 guard) and Emily Witte (5-8 guard). The Lancers also have 11 others gals returning to the lineup that is a mix of sophomores and freshman to go along with six brand new players.
“Just because of our small numbers we feel like we are in pretty good condition because we play all the time,” Felderman added. “Some of these teams have bigger rosters and their kids don’t get in (the game) that often.”
The Hardrockers are hoping to keep pace with the “in-your-face” style of play that Mount Marty will install. And if SDM’s first game was any indication on how the season will go, the Hardrockers should be just fine. With no seniors and two returning players unavailable until the end of the volleyball season (junior Jennie Malone and sophomore Stephanie Carpio), the Lady ‘Rockers have had to rely on the play of their eight freshman. Those first-year athletes all saw significant playing time against Great Falls and all seemed to contribute to the victory.
“I was pleased with the efforts of our young players this past weekend. The lights are coming on everyday and we are getting a little bit better everyday. It’s just that we still have so much to learn,” Felderman said. “As they learn we are able to do more things. We have more help in the post position, which is nice this year.”
Another plus for Felderman and the Hardrockers is their familiarity with the Lady Lancers’ program. As Felderman embarks on her 26th season at the helm for SDM, Mount Marty’s head coach, Chuck Iverson, has been in Yankton for 16 years. “Chuck and I have been playing against each other for almost 20 years now. We pretty much know what each other is going to do.”
The Lancers finished with a 13-16 record (9-9 in conference) to finish fifth (in GPAC) a year ago. They are picked to finish eighth in the GPAC this year.
The Hardrockers will then face Dakota Wesleyan University Saturday in Mitchell and coach Felderman will be going from a coach she has competed against for 20 seasons, to a coach that, even though she has only faced two previous times, knows quite a bit about.
“I know (DWU) has a great coach --- she’s one of ours,” Felderman said.
The Lady Tigers are under the director of former Lady Hardrocker Ann Konechne, who played for Felderman. Konechne was named All-American following her senior season at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in 1999. She was a four-year starter for SDSMT and a three-time All-SDIC honoree and was named to the All-NAIA District 12 Team twice. Konechne enters her third season as the head coach of the women’s basketball program at Dakota Wesleyan. In two seasons, she has an overall record of 18-45 (.286).
“It seems like a team takes on the personality of their coach. Ann is very effervescent and passionate about the game,” Felderman said. “She has only been there a short while but has done a great job of recruiting. They will be fundamentally sound.”
The Tigers will be led this season by the play of their three seniors --- 5-9 forward Kelly Hair, 5-10 forward Kara Overweg and 5-5 guard Jennifer Pommer. They along with three other returning players are a group of sharp-shooters that can cause problems for opposing teams. The Lady Hardrockers will have to break from their zone defense they showed in the first game of the year and man up on DWU.
“They have got some really good players and they have some good experience. They shoot the three very well,” Felderman said.
On the other side of the court, the Lady Hardrocker also possess some long range talent in freshmen Madi Hotovec (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Vedvie (Lake Preston). Fellow freshman Bethany Holyoak (Moorcroft, Wyo.) seems to be a presence in the paint along with returning junior Amber DeWeerd (Rock Valley, Iowa).
It wouldn’t be surprising if the two teams Saturday sort of mirrored each other.
“If there are any of my kids that are like me --- Ann would be that person,” Felderman said. “She’ll know some of the things I am going to do and I will know what she will do. It’s kind of like checkers.”
DWU finished with an 11-21 overall record and 7-11 in GPAC play. They advanced to the quarterfinals of the conference post season. This year they are picked to finish eighth in their conference.
Tip-off times are set for 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
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