Things aren’t expected to get any easier for the Chadron State College basketball teams when they close out the Old Year on the road this coming weekend in Colorado’s high country.

The Eagles will play the Fort Lewis Skyhawks in Durango on Friday night and tangle with the Adams State Grizzlies in Alamosa on Saturday night.  The CSC quintets will finally play at home for the first time in more than a month when they entertain Colorado Mesa and Western State on Jan. 5 and 6.

It’s been a rough December for the Eagles.  Both teams have won just one of their six RMAC games since that schedule opened on Dec. 1 and the women also lost at the University of Sioux Falls last Tuesday night, giving both crews 3-9 records at the mid-point of their schedules.

Are brighter days ahead?  The coaches seem to think so, but the Eagles figure to be the underdogs in three of the four games this weekend. 

The Friday night assignments will be the toughest. 

The Fort Lewis women are 10-1 overall, falling only to defending RMAC champion CSU-Pueblo 63-48 in Pueblo to open the conference slate.  The Skyhawks men are 9-2.  They lost to Eastern New Mexico on their season-opener 73-72 and dropped a 90-75 decision to upstart Westminster in Salt Lake City on Dec. 15. 

Two of the Fort Lewis men’s victories were at home in overtime. They edged Western State 93-92 and Adams State 103-96.  The Skyhawks are potent.  They are averaging 91.2 points a game, highest in the conference, and are enjoying a 12.5-point winning margin.

The Fort Lewis men are shooting 51.1 percent from the field and five of them are averaging in double figures.  They also have outrebounded their foes by nearly five a game. The leading scorer is 6-foot-4 senior Rasmus Bach at 15.4 points a game. Daniel Hernandez, a 5-8 senior, is next at 14.4.

The Lady Skyhawks are averaging 72.8 points, nearly 20 a game more than have been scored against them, and hold an eight-rebound per game margin over their foes. 

Their top gun is 6-1 freshman Vivian Gray at 16.4 a game. She has tallied at least 20 points in four games and hit 30 once. Senior guard Astrea Reed is next on the scoring list at 13.5 points a game.

The Adams State men also can rack up the points.  They’re averaging 86.8 per game, second best in the conference behind Fort Lewis, but they also give up a lot point points—89.8 a game.  They are 4-7 overall with all four win in RMAC play.

The Grizzlies have lost their last three RMAC games, two of them in overtime to Colorado Mesa 90-87 and Fort Lewis 103-96.  The other setback was on Dec. 16 at Westminster, 93-77.

Four Grizzlies are averaging in double digits, led by 5-10 Brandon Sly at 19.3 a game and 6-4 Shane Johnson at 18.6.  Both are shooting at least 50 percent from the field and Sly is dishing out nearly six assists a game. 

The Adams State women don’t score nearly as much as the men—62.7 per game—and are just 2-8 for the season and 0-6 in the RMAC.  Only one Lady Grizzly, 5-10 junior Brooke Neal at 10.5 a game, is scoring in double figures, but three teammates are averaging at least 8.8 points.

Because they have been beset by injuries, both CSC teams needed the Christmas break.

Men’s coach Houston Reed told those attending the weekly Coaches Corner meeting on Dec. 18 that freshman Eric Jamerman was the only member of his primary rotation who wasn’t nursing some sort of a muscle or joint ailment.

Women’s mentor Janet Raymer also has a long list of players with various injuries that have limited their playing time.    

The men’s team received a major setback as the season was opening. Senior Darius Polley, who handled most of the point guard duties and led the Eagles in scoring last year at 13.8 points a game last season, suffered a back injury, reportedly while dunking, shortly after the team arrived in Texas for two games  in mid-November to launch the season.

Polley did not play in those games and shortly afterwards left the campus and returned to his home in Amarillo, Texas, because of a family emergency, according to coach Reed.  He was the team’s most athletic and experienced player. 

The replacement at point guard, transfer Jaisean Jackson, is the Eagles’ leading scorer through 12 games with an 11-point average.  He’s also handed out more assists (47) than he’s had turnovers (38).

Second on the scoring chart is Scottsbluff freshman Dru Kuxhausen at 10.8 points. He missed the two most-recent games in South Dakota because of the hip injury he sustained after scoring 28 points vs. Metro State the previous contest.

The Eagles also have gotten good production from transfer Jeremy Ruffin, who is averaging 8.1 points, is the top rebounder at 6.7 a game and has earned praise from Reed for his defensive prowess.

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The coach also commends Chadron native Vonsinh Sayaloune for his gritty play. 

“He’s doing everything thing you can expect at both ends of the court,” Reed said. “What a tough kid.”

The Eagles are averaging 65.6 points a game and giving up 74.2 while shooting 43.3 percent from the field, including 36.2 percent from 3-point range.  They are even with their foes in rebounding, but their 175 turnovers are 29 more than the opponent’s.

The Lady Eagles have been outscored 68.9 to 60.9 points a game. They are shooting 37.6 percent from the field, a percentage point better than their rivals, but are lagging on 3-point shooting. They have made just 28.4 percent from behind the arc and the opponents have sunk 87 treys, 30 more than CSC.

The team’s major bugaboo, particularly in recent games, has been turnovers.  They’ve had at least 20 in each of the last four contests and are averaging 19.2 for the season compared to the foes’ 13.8. 

Senior Kalli Feddersen is the team’s only double-figure scorer at 13.2 points a game, even though her field goal shooting has not been up to par.  She’s also leading the Eagles in rebounding at 8.2 a game, fifth highest in the RMAC and perhaps the best in the country for a 5-8 guard. 

The Eagles also have gotten excellent play from freshmen Brooke Turek of Hemingford and Jessica Harvey of Morrill. Turek is averaging nearly nine points a game and Harvey eight, second and third best on the team. Both appear to have bright futures while displaying lots of energy and grit at both ends of the court and appear to have bright futures.

The women’s team lost one of its most experienced players just before Christmas, when Keeley Pearce returned to her home in Australia because of her father’s poor health.  Although sporadic, Pearce had scored in double figures four times in the first seven games this season.

Some of the slack for Peace’s departure will likely be taken up by senior Letty Rodriguez, who recently rejoined the team after becoming a mother this fall.  She shot 45 percent from the field and averaged 8.3 points last season.

Raymer is also hoping that talented sophomore transfer Jessica Lovitt, who has battled a combination of shoulder, ankle and rib injuries the entire season, will be healthier the second half of the season.  

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