The long-awaited start of the Chadron State College basketball season could happen this weekend.
Eagles’ Athletic Director Joel Smith said Monday after conferring with his colleagues at Westminster University in Salt Lake City and Colorado Mesa at Grand Junction it seems likely that all the teams will be able to play, “If there’s no outbreak of the COVID among the players,” he added.
The Westminster Griffins are to visit the Chicoine Center on Friday night and the Mesa Mavericks will follow on Saturday night after playing at Black Hills State the previous night.
Both double-headers will tip off at 5:30. No fans will be permitted to attend the games, but they will be available for viewing on CSC Live via the college’s website.
Chadron State was slated to launch its seasons last weekend by visiting Fort Lewis College at Durango, Colo., and Western Colorado at Gunnison, but the Eagles did not make the trip because of COVID issues, either active cases or quarantines. While few specifics have been made public, Smith indicted the problems seem to have pretty well run their course.
Both the Westminster and Mesa men opened their seasons at home last weekend by sweeping Colorado Christian and Metro State. The women’s team from both of the Denver-area schools also played at Mesa, but neither of them went to Salt Lake City to meet Westminster.
The Westminster women were 24-6 overall and 17-5 while placing third in the RMAC standing last season. The top three scorers from that team have returned. They are 5-6 point guard Mariah Martin, who averaged 15.7 points last season; 6-1 Hunter Krebs who averaged 15.2; and 6-footer Sarah McGinley, who averaged 13.2. All three are seniors.
The Griffins, who had three players tally 15 points apiece in the 80-51 win over CSC last Jan. 10, were third in this year’s preseason RMAC coaches’ poll.
All five on starters on last year’s 16-12 and 11-11 Westminster men’s team averaged in double figures, but have expended their eligibility. Last weekend, the new lineup edged Metro 56-55 and slipped past Colorado Christian 79-71.
The Griffins are tabbed to tie for 10th in the RMAC preseason poll. They topped the CSC men 83-72 a year ago when Jai Jai Ely scored 32 points while sinking all seven of his 3-point shots.
Both Mesa teams are expected to be strong conference contenders again. The women are picked to win the title after going 25-5 overall and 19-3 in the league last season and the men are third on the preseason list after going 21-10 and 14-8 a year ago.
The Mesa women defeated Colorado Christian 75-61 and downed Metro 91-57 in the season openers.
The Lady Mavs’ leaders include 5-10 Daniella Turner, who scored 20 points against Christian and 29 versus Metro. She averaged 15.7 last season. Kylyn Rigsby, who is 5-8, scored 16 points in both of the weekend contests.
Turner tallied 21 points during Mesa’s 73-41 win over the Eagles in Grand Junction last season.
The Mesa men shot 50 percent from the field while also sweeping their opening foes last weekend. They bested the Christian Cougars 80-60 and the Metro Roadrunners 83-68.
Ethan Menzies led the way in the first game with 26 points. Four Mavs scored in double digits against Metro, led by freshman Reece Johnson with 17.
The Mavs won 84-70 when the CSC men visited Grand Junction last December.
CSC fans are anxious to find out how the men’s team under the direction of first-year coach Shane Paben will fare after he added a half dozen transfers to mix with several returnees.
Paben hasn’t said much about his players individually, but noted he’s been pleased with their work ethic and believes they will shoot well.
CSC Women’s Coach Janet Raymer has added two transfers and two freshmen that she believes will make the Eagles stronger. However, the newcomers have been slowed by COVID issues and Raymer said veterans will likely make up the starting lineup in the opening games.