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South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will take their second road trip of the season this weekend, heading to Billings, Mont., to compete in the Rocky Mountain Classic women’s hoop tournament Friday and Saturday
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will take their second road trip of the season this weekend, heading to Billings, Mont., to compete in the Rocky Mountain Classic women’s hoop tournament Friday and Saturday.
After coming up short on an East River trip to old SDIC opponents (Mount Marty College and Dakota Wesleyan University), the Lady Hardrockers will have another tough challenge when they play the Rocky Mountain College Lady Bears Friday, followed by a matchup with NAIA Div. I Carroll College Saturday.
The Lady Bears are currently 2-1 on the season and are a team that Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman is impressed with.
“They have excellent athletes – I tried to recruit some of them,” Felderman said.
Rocky Mountain is a sophomore laden team, rostering six. The squad has three seniors and three juniors in the lineup along with a pair of freshmen.
The Bears biggest threat, however, is 6-foot-2-inch junior college transfer Jenna Sawyer. A part of Dixie State College’s (Utah) team a year ago, Sawyer gained a wealth of experience and averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds each game. Felderman said she will be the key to the Bears’ offense.
“Last weekend our demise was that we had no back side help,” said Felderman. “We have worked on that.”
Another asset that Rocky Mountain College has is their appetite for shooting the long range shot. The Bears love to shoot the three and live and die by that option. Add to that their aggressive style of defense and game-long pressure, and the Rocky Mountain Bears are a pretty formidable opponent.
“They like to press and be aggressive,” Felderman said. “We do okay with (pressure) --- even with the youth.”
Saturday’s bout between the Lady ‘Rockers and Carroll College seems to be even a bigger challenge for SDM. The Saints head into the tournament with a 6-0 mark on the season and ranked No. 5 in the NAIA Div. I preseason polls. On top of that, the Hardrockers defeated the Saints a year ago when they were in a similar situation.
“We beat them last year and they were 9-0,” Felderman said.
So Carroll College may be looking for a little payback this time around.
“They want to rip our heads off,” the coach added.
The Saints return a lot of veteran players mixed in with a good group of recruits as well as a pair of Division I transfers in post players Amy Brooks (6-2 senior from University of Montana) and Shannon Bosley (6-3 sophomore from Montana State).
“They are both very mobile and very aggressive,” Felderman said.
Looking at the lineup, the Saints have three seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and six freshmen. On paper, their inside game looks pretty intimidating, but like Rocky Mountain, Carroll’s strength is their perimeter shooting. They too love to shoot the three and play an up-tempo style of defense.
For the Hardrockers to be successful, Felderman said her team has to exploit what the Saints will throw at them.
“They are going to be up on us and just very, very physical,” she said. “We will have to have success with our penetration. We have a better inside game this year to do that too.” One reason for that is the rapid development of young post player Leah Sundby. The 5-11 freshman from Williston, N.D., had a very productive weekend, scoring 13 points against Mount Marty and dished in 16 points in the DWU game.
Felderman was very impressed with the rookie’s play and said she took advantage of mismatches and used what was available to her. Her comprehension of the Hardrocker system was also beneficial.
“At certain times the light starts to come on,” Felderman said. “The good thing about Leah and the rest of the freshmen, is once they get it --- they get it.”
Sundby wasn’t the leading scorer on the weekend however, as veteran junior forward Amber DeWeerd had an impressive outing. The Rock Valley, Iowa, native scored 18 points against the Lancer and Tigers to pace the Hardrocker offense.
“Both game she was out there with the youngsters and really was a leader and organizer,” Felderman added.
DeWeerd is one of just three juniors as the veterans of the SDM team. With eight freshmen on this year’s roster, the sooner the girls pick up the system the better.
Heading to a tournament against non-conference opponents might give some teams the opportunity to try to install some different wrinkles to their schemes, but Felderman said her team has their hands full learning the system already in place.
“We have enough new stuff. We just have to iron things out and get everybody going in the same direction,” Felderman said with a chuckle.
The Hardrockers square of with the Bears in an 8 p.m. contest on Friday followed by a 6 p.m. tip-off against Carroll on Saturday.
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