By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- Riding a four-game winning streak, the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will take a road trip this weekend to Colorado Springs for the Colorado College Classic Friday and Saturday.
After blowing out two preseason ranked opponents in Northwestern College of Iowa (ranked third) and Menlo College from California (ranked 12th) as well as earning a hard-fought victory over a very good University of Sioux Falls squad, the Lady Hardrockers will go up a level and try their mettle against a NCAA Division III team in the Colorado College Lady Tigers. SDM will also take on a newer NAIA program in the Johnson and Wales Wildcats.
The Hardrockers square off with Johnson and Wales Friday evening. While SDM is cruising into the bout on an up-swing, Johnson and Wales is having its problems, going winless on the season with a 0-6 mark.
“They are a fairly young program and they have small numbers like we do,” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman.
Felderman added she knew little about the squad based out of Denver, Colo., but they do seem to rally around the play of forward Ja Qkeyia Edmonds, a junior from Seattle, Wash. Edmonds is averaging 14 points a game for Johnson and Wales and has recorded a number of double doubles on the season.
The Hardrocker will go into the game looking to polish up on certain aspects of their game.
“We would like to work on getting some things smoothed out with our offensive and defensive sets,” Felderman said.
SDM junior Jennie Malone, won’t be playing in this weekend’s games due to an injured hamstring, so the Hardrockers will have to look to its young roster to find a replacement.
“Somebody else will have to step up,” Felderman said. “We have some confidence now.”
In Saturday’s game, the Hardrockers will square off with a dangerous Colorado College unit. The Tigers are 3-2 on the season and roster a talented guard in Melanie Auguste – the 2005-06 Independent Conference rookie of the year. As a freshman Auguste averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. In the five games the Tigers have played this season she is averaging 12.6 points and 8.4 rebounds.
“They have an excellent point guard who was their rookie of the year,” Felderman said about Auguste. “She’s was an all region player too. She is very explosive.”
Felderman added that the Tigers like to shoot from the perimeter and will focus their attack around the play of Auguste.
“They are a very strong Division III team,” the coach added.
Once they found their stride, the Hardrockers were able to put teams away early, using three juniors along with seven freshmen. Juniors Melanie Vedvei (from Lake Preston) and Amber DeWeerd (from Rock Valley, Iowa) solidified a cast of freshmen that have rapidly developed since the season started a month ago. Madi Hotovec (from Phoenix Ariz.), Bethany Holyoak (from Moorcroft, Wyo.) and Leah Sundby (from Williston, N.D.) have all put forth great efforts to aid their team and fellow freshmen Rachel O’Hara, Karmen Powell, Kayla Goshorn and Nicole Martin have been there for support as well. “We have the confidence now and an increase in our depth. I would say we are equally strong offensively as we are defensively,” Felderman said. “I am pleased with where we are at with the youth but I’d like to be a little farther along with some other things. We will just keep improving weekly.”
South Dakota Mines heads into the weekend with a 5-4 record. They will take on the Wildcats Friday in a 5 p.m. bout followed by a 4 p.m. tip-off Saturday against the Tigers.
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