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DSU basketball prepares for first NSAA conference game in 2019-20 season

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The Dickinson State men's and women's teams practiced in their home gym, Scott's Gymnasium, in preparation for their toughest road game yet. (Matthew Curry / The Dickinson Press)

Some of the best basketball comes from the conference play, including the epic rivalries such as in Big Ten ball with Gophers vs. Badgers, or in North Dakota with the Bison vs. the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. For Dickinson State, one of them is Valley City, and they go to war in less than 24 hours.

The Dickinson State men’s and women’s basketball teams will have a brief glimpse of conference play with their opponents being the Vikings. Both teams previously recorded a win in their recent home games against Yellowstone Christian College. The teams will hope to continue that success in their conference game on Dec. 7 before returning to non-conference play and not returning to conference play again until Jan. 10.

“It is kinda huge. You don’t want to say it’s a big, big game. but the difference of being 1-and-oh in conference and having a whole month before you play another conference game, it’s huge,” women’s basketball head coach Eric Nelson said.

The women’s team (3-6 overall) will be the first to take the floor against the Vikings (2-4 overall). The team is 8-16 against the Vikings overall, but currently has a 6-6 record against them at home. The Blue Hawks are close to the Vikings in team categories in the North Star Athletic Association, with the Vikings being placed just one spot higher of the Blue Hawks in scoring defense and offensive field goal percentages. Dickinson State’s forward and guard Sydney Clark both currently lead the conference in steals with 40 combined.

The team will also rely on senior guard Ashlie Larson and Clark to continue to lead the team in scoring. Larson currently averages 12.7 points per game and Clark with 10.1 ppg. However, the Vikings will be looking at senior center Mackenzie Huber and junior Macey Kvilvang to help the team get the win. Huber, the 6-foot-zero center leads the team with 12.5 points. For Kvilvang, the 6-foot-5-inch forward helps lead with rebounding, averaging five rebounds per game.

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The women’s game will begin at 3 p.m. at Scott’s Gymnasium.

Following the women’s game, the men’s team will hope to continue its strong Wednesday performance by making its first win streak of the season against the 1-9 Vikings. Last season, the Blue Hawks lost its first showdown with the Vikings 84-77, but then defeated them on the road 84-72 and again at home in the opening round of the NSAA Conference Tournament 75-66. The Blue Hawks currently hold a 12-10 record over Valley City and are 6-6 at home.

The Blue Hawks are currently third in the NSAA on scoring offenses, averaging 77.60 team points per game, compared to the Vikings’ last place 70.10 ppg. The Blue Hawks are also second in the NSAA in assists, averaging 16.11 apg.

The team will be looking to be led by senior guard Kenny Jackson, who leads the team in field goal percentage with .439 and steals, averaging 1.4 steals-per-game, and is averaging 13 points per game. The team will also be led by senior point guard Donte Walker, averaging 13.7 points per game, and junior Montel Walker with 13.6 points per game. Senior Malcohm Hill looks to have a strong performance in the game, recording the team’s only double-double this season with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Yellowstone.

Following the team’s victory on Wednesday, Dickinson State head coach Josh Vaughan mentioned how he hopes his team brings confidence and energy into the game against Valley City.

“Hopefully (we) get some confidence playing at home,” he said. “We haven’t won a lot of times this year, winning at home is always a good thing, so we should just be a little more confident knowing that we can play well at home and win.”

The men’s team will test its conference play against Valley City following the conclusion of the women’s game. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

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Related Topics: BASKETBALL
Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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