Mon-Dak Conference basketball season tips off on Thursday

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Mon-Dak Conference basketball season gets underway Thursday with a slate of four games throughout North Dakota and Montana. Eight teams will be battling it out during the regular season to try and win a championship and earn the right to host the post-season Regional Tournament.

Last year on the men’s side, Williston State College took home the regular season championship as well as the post-season championship and qualified for Nationals in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Tetons have a new cast of players, but have shown signs of being able to repeat. They have gone 10-5 in an extremely tough schedule and beat some national powers along the way such as College of Southern Idaho, Western Nebraska, Casper College and Sheridan College. They reached the championship game of the preseason conference tournament before losing to Dawson who took home the trophy. The Buccaneers have also played a tough schedule, going 11-6 in non-conference games, though three of those losses were by 4 points or less and another was in overtime. Eight of their players return from last year’s team who lost to NDSCS in the Regional Semifinals. Dawson has a balanced attack with four guys averaging double figures and all 13 players playing significant minutes so far this season. The NDSCS Wildcats have won the conference four of the past five years and have their sights set on getting the trophy back after falling short against Williston last year. They have posted an 11-2 record up to this point with their only losses to Dawson and Sheridan. They will be difficult to reckon with as they have Idaho State signee Noble Cooper leading the way. Miles Community College has a host of returners and had a 7 game winning streak in November after losing their opening game to Dawson, but have struggled a bit lately playing some tough non-conference games and losing the past five in a row. They are 8-7 right now. United Tribes is 9-5 and are a well-coached team that is always difficult to beat. Lake Region (6-10) is a very young team that has showed glimpses of getting hot while Dakota College Bottineau (4 wins) and Bismarck State (3 wins) have struggled in the non-conference season, but have the potential to turn it around during league play.

On the women’s side, Bismarck State looks like the team to beat. They won the conference pre-season tournament and have gone 13-2 in November and December. They have the leading scorer in the country returning as a sophomore in Amber Stevahn. NDSCS is strong once again and have posted a 13-2 non-conference record, only losing to Bismarck and Northeast. Miles isn’t as good as they were last year when they went undefeated in the regular season and were ranked in the top 20, but they have shown signs of being a contender in league play by going 8-8 in non-conference games. The DCC Lady Bucs have a whole new squad from last year with only two returners and have looked good at times, though they’ve been inconsistent. They’ve gone 8-9 with a tough schedule that has prepared them for conference play. Lake Region is almost always in the mix as one of the top teams in the conference and this year doesn’t look to be any different as they are 9-7 on the season. The women from United Tribes have also proven that they will be able to hang with the top teams in the league with a 6-7 record and Dakota College Bottineau has a winning record at 8-7. Williston hasn’t won many games up to this point (3-13), but the start of conference provides a new season and a fresh outlook where everyone has a chance to jumpstart their season.

The Bucs and Lady Bucs get the opportunity to start conference off with two home games. They will host United Tribes on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and then Lake Region State College will come to town on Sunday, Jan. 12 for games at 2 and 4 p.m.