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South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will have a tough row to hoe this weekend when the Lady Hardrockers go head-to-head with a pair of premier Great Plains Conference opponents in the Northwestern Iowa Red Raiders and the University of Sioux Falls Cougars
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will have a tough row to hoe this weekend when the Lady Hardrockers go head-to-head with a pair of premier Great Plains Conference opponents in the Northwestern Iowa Red Raiders and the University of Sioux Falls Cougars.
South Dakota Mines will take on the Red Raiders Friday at 4 p.m. followed by a bout Saturday at 2 p.m. with the Cougars. Both games will be played at the King Center before the start of the SDM men’s US Bank Thanksgiving Classic.
The Hardrocker enjoyed some success last weekend, taking down Rocky Mountain College from Billings Mont., and Menlo College out of California during the Lady Hardrocker Classic in Rapid City.
“We needed those two wins. They were huge for us,” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman.
SDM defeated Rocky Mountain, 67-64 and then dispatched of Menlo, 74-54, which gave the team an added sense of confidence.
“It wasn’t like they were easy teams. They were hard fought battles and we just had to execute to win,” Felderman added.
Along with the confidence, the Lady Hardrockers group of freshmen are developing nicely and picking up on Felderman’s philosophies.
“The freshmen are catching onto the system. It’s getting easier for them therefore we can play more of them,” she said.
Individually, Leah Sundby (5-foot-11 inches from Williston, N.D.) and Bethany Holyoak (6-0 from Moorcroft, Wyo.) have been doing wonders in the paint this season. Holyoak lit up the boards and netted 22 points last weekend and Sundby showed great effort as well.
“(Bethany) and Leah are doing a nice job inside. Nicole Martin (5-11 from Missoula, Mont.) came in and played some great defense as well.”
Mines has also seen some good play from fellow freshmen Madi Hotovec and Karmen Powell on the perimeter. Hotovec is averaging 11.4 points a game this season despite being injured last weekend. Powell stepped up during the Classic and filled in nicely.
Mixed in with the rookies are veteran juniors: Melanie Vedvei (Lake Preston), Amber DeWeerd (Rock Valley, Iowa) and Jennie Malone (Rapid City). Put them all together and South Dakota Mines becomes a solid, well-rounded unit. Vedvei was the 2005 Dakota Athletic Conference MVP and is leading the Hardrockers with 112 total points (over seven games). DeWeerd has been coming on strong lately and is second on the team in scoring average with 12.4 a game. Malone was added to the team immediately after volleyball season ended two weeks ago and has made an instant impact.
And it is a good thing that the team is coming together because their opponent Friday is not only undefeated, but also considered the No. 1 team in NAIA Division II.
“They came out ranked third in the preseason and since then Hastings, who was No. 1, has lost,” Felderman said.
Boasting a 9-0 record, the Red Raiders have last year’s NAIA Player of the Year in 5-9 junior Deb Remmerde. A two-time Kodak All-American and first team All-American, she set the all-time record for most consecutive free throws (133). The guard averaged 31.1 points (second best in NAIA Div. II) and 6.8 rebounds a game. On top of that she is also a former teammate of DeWeerd as both played high school ball in Rock Valley, Iowa.
“There have been a number of teams that have tried to hold (Remmerde) down. She is very quick with her shot and very smart,” Felderman said. “She doesn’t have a lot of speed but she can read defenses so well. She’s had people right on her and she still makes the shot.”
The Hardrockers will play the Red Raiders very cautiously. They probably won’t be able to pressure them much and will more than likely attempt to exploit Remmerde’s teammates.
“Just try to get what comes off the other players misses,” Felderman said. “They are deep and we just have to do the other little things.”
Saturday’s bout matches the Hardrockers with the University of Sioux Falls Cougars, a team that is also stacked with talent and experience.
“They are very, very deep and like to put up the three,” Felderman said.
USF has a pair of NCAA Division II transfers from the University of Nebraska Omaha in Kristen McMahon (5-10 forward sophomore) and Andrea Segich. The Cougars are 5-2 on the season.
Because the Cougars like to shoot the three and are an up-tempo team, Mines will also revert to their schemes from the beginning of the season with a more conservative game-plan.
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