Civic Center showdown: Four ranked teams set for key DAC doubleheaderTonight’s Dakota Athletic Conference showdown between Black Hills State’s two ranked basketball teams and Jamestown College’s pair of top 25 clubs doesn’t lack for, well, much of anything. The four teams occupy the top two spots in both conference races, and with the DAC as we know it dissolving at the end of the season, regular-season games with this much at stake may not come as frequently, at least in the near future.
Tonight’s Dakota Athletic Conference showdown between Black Hills State’s two ranked basketball teams and Jamestown College’s pair of top 25 clubs doesn’t lack for, well, much of anything.
The four teams occupy the top two spots in both conference races, and with the DAC as we know it dissolving at the end of the season, regular-season games with this much at stake may not come as frequently, at least in the near future.
To that end, the school is dubbing the doubleheader “Orange Crush,” and is asking JC supporters to don orange as the Yellow Jackets bring their top 10 teams to town, starting at 5:30 p.m.
There still are four conference games to go after tonight, so big games remain ahead. But these two are a couple biggies, no doubt. Even Mother Nature approves. After another frigid cold snap, reasonable weather is expected today.
“Having the opportunity to play in games like this is why you play collegiate athletics,” said JC women’s coach Greg Ulland. “It’s not like its do or die, but clearly it’s a big night for us. We’re excited to host a top 5 team in our house, with our fans in the stands. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Rankings aside, it also figures to be a night of just good basketball.
All four teams have excellent individual skill. The Jimmie women (79.71 points per game) are No. 1 in the DAC in scoring, while Black Hills State (75.29) is No. 2.
On the men’s side, the Yellow Jackets (79.73 ppg) lead the way, while the Jimmies (77.87 ppg) are right behind.
Black Hills State swept Round 1 in Spearfish, S.D., Jan. 8, so the Jimmies certainly want, and need, to hold serve at home.
“Anytime you get two games, with all four teams ranked, it’s going to be a big deal,” JC men’s coach Matt Murken said. “It’s as big a game as we’ve had all year.”
The combined records of the four teams is 69-18, meaning they’ve won nearly 75 percent of their tips. Rankings-wise, the Black Hills State women are No. 5, and their men No. 9. The Jimmie men are ranked 21st and the women 24th.
Need star power? Check.
Keely Krolikowski (17.33 ppg) and Katelynn Lamb (16.57) are 1 and 2 in the DAC in scoring.
Bridget Schuneman was sick last week, but is recovering nicely for the Jimmies. She’s a lock to finish No. 1 in NAIA D-II in field-goal percentage — she’s currently at 68.4 percent.
Schuneman is a sophomore, JC point guard Hannah Steele is a freshman and she leads the DAC in assists — by a lot. Amber Ramlo, the former Blue Jay, and just a sophomore, is No. 1 in rebounding per night (7.29).
As for the men, Black Hills State has game-changers galore. Luke Enos (16.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is an All-American.
Like Enos, Cain Atkinson (15.7 ppg), Will John Johnson (12.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and Clay Pottoroff (8.6 ppg) are good and have been around forever.
The Jimmies are in first place, a half-game up on the Yellow Jackets, and don’t lack for firepower, either.
C.J. Peeters (14.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.7 apg), Travis Burley (13.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Byron Jones (12.6 ppg) and Chris Lawrence (11.4) are all averaging in double figures, and Jacquez Williams (8.3 ppg), Mark Hoge (7 ppg) and B.J. Mertens (4 ppg, 2.1 apg) also are playing key roles.
Black Hills State’s women (8-0 DAC, 18-3 overall) are where people expected. They were picked to win the DAC and a win tonight would all but sew up the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.
The Jimmies (6-3, 16-5) were picked seventh. Their story — new coach, new team — is well documented. But here they are with less than a month to go and Ulland has them in the hunt for a DAC title with a young, talented and hungry bunch.
“The competitive nature our girls have is their separating point,” Ulland said. “They like proving people wrong. They like a challenge, and they’ve put themselves in a position to do something special.”
The BHSU (6-2, 17-5) and JC men (18-5, 7-2) were picked 1-2. Black Hills State has lost two straight, at home surprisingly, but Murken is expecting an A-1 effort from the veteran Jackets.
“They get everyone’s best shot. Every time they step on the court, they have a target on them,” said Murken, whose team has won 13 of their last 15 games. “There isn’t a secret to beating them. You just have to play extremely, extremely well. They’re one of the top teams in the country and they’ve earned that recognition.
“For us, it’s going to be a great challenge. But our guys are excited and looking forward to it. It should be a really good night of basketball.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com