Basketball (M)

Pioneers go 2-0 in the Foundation Classic

(Miles City, MT) The Pioneers took to the Hardwood this weekend in the Foundation Classic against Lake Region State College and Williston State College.

Entering the weekend with a 2-3 Record, the Pioneers have been battling injuries throughout the first three weeks of the season. Coming into the weekend after a tough road trip to Casper last weekend, MCC was closer to full strength getting Kameron Rauch, Gavin Gundlach, and Ugiljesa Portic back from the disabled list.

Game 1 MCC 66 vs Lake Region State 56

The Pioneers played their first of a pair of games scheduled for the Foundation Classic on Friday night against the Lake Region State Royals out of Devil’s Lake, ND. The Royals entered Friday’s contest with a record of 6-1 behind leading scorers Ben Rennie and Jordan Bolton and behind their big men James Streeter and 7-footer Harvey Barr.

First Half:

Both teams came out of the locker rooms cold and thanks to some good defense on both ends of the floor, the scorers for both the Pioneers and Royals were held at bay through a majority of the first half. The pioneers shot just 29% (12-41) from the floor and the Royals weren’t much better shooting 34% (10-29). The first half became a battle of the big men as Adoum Mbang and Deng Kuany went toe to toe underneath with Harvey Barr and James Streeter. Some early foul trouble for Barr would have him missing a majority of the first half but Streeter would pick up the slack with 8 first half points, all of which came inside the paint. The Pioneers would look to Deng Kuany to answer, and that he did. He would find 3 offensive rebounds that lead to 6 second chance points. He would lead all first half scoring with 10 points. The season scoring leader for the Pioneers, Montenia Nelson, would have a slow first half shooting just 2-8 from the field and 0-2 from behind the arc. Heading into the locker room after 20 minutes of play, the Pioneers would cling to a 33-28 lead.

Second Half:

The playmakers for both teams would heat up in the second half. Montenia Nelson would heat up from the field shooting 4-6 in the second half while LRSC’s Ben Rennie would find his from adding 8 points of his own. With the game tied late in the second half, Nelson would get fouled on his way to the basket and be rewarded with two free throws. In disagreement, Rennie would spike the ball on the free throw line and would be called for a technical foul giving the Pioneers two more shots. Gundlach would hit both of the technical foul shots putting the Pioneers up by two. Nelson would hit both of his free throws and would extend the lead to four with less than three minutes on the clock. Four points proved to be enough and the Pioneers would never look back as they would be money down the stretch from the free throw line hitting 14 of 18 in the second half (18 for 25 on the game) and cruising to the 66-56 victory.

Recap:

Montenia Nelson would lead the game in scoring with 18 points while Miles City would land three players in double digits (Gavin Gundlach, Montenia Nelson, Deng Kuany). Despite being outrebounded on the game, MCC would win the battle in the paint outscoring LRSC 26-24. Deng Kuany, with 11 rebounds would tally his third double-double of the season. The Pioneers would improve to 3-3 and the Royals’ record would fall to 6-2.

Game 2 MCC 84 vs. Williston State College 66 After a big win Friday night against Lake Region State College the Pioneers were set to take on an extremely talented Williston State College. The Tetons entered Saturday’s contest at 3-2 after picking up a win against Montana Western on Friday afternoon.

First Half:

MCC had its hands full with the athletic back court of Williston State. After an early eight point deficit, the Tetons would go cold and the Pioneers would put together a 10-2 run of their own behind some great offensive possessions. Some good mid range shooting by Montenia Nelson and Kameron Rauch would allow Deng Kuany and Adoum Mbang to take advantage of the low post. The two big men, along with Freshman Uglijesa Portic would clean up the glass tallying 18 rebounds for the trio, six of which came on the offensive end of the floor. The offensive rebounds lead to second chance points down low for the Pioneers and they would head into the locker room with a 39-32 lead.

Second Half:

The Pioneers would keep the foot on the gas pedal coming out of the locker room as they wouldn’t lose the lead the entire half. Finding their footing behind the line, MCC shot 50% from the 3-point line in the second half. With Williston State playing up to defend the arc, the lanes opened up for Gundlach and Nelson who facilitated 14 second half points when driving to the paint. With the guards moving into the lane and the big men working for position, the Pioneers eventually made their way to free throw line where they were almost automatic. The team would hit 27 of 34 free throws with Nelson shooting a perfect 13 for 13 from the charity stripe. The frustration for the Tetons had built up all game and would finally boil over as Keith Stagg was charged with a technical foul after fouling Nelson on a lay-up. Gundlach would bury both technical foul shots and Nelson would hit his pair and the Pioneers would take a commanding 12 point lead and coast to the 84-66 win.

Recap:

The Pioneers picked up their first win against the Tetons since the 2011-2012 season. Montenia Nelson and Deng Kuany would lead the scoring charge for the Pioneers with 32 points and 14 points, respectively. Aside from Nelson and Kuany, six other Pioneers would find their way to the scoring column. After the win, MCC moves to 4-3 on the year while WSC’s record falls to 3-3.

Next up for the NEERS:

MCC will head to Gillette, WY this Friday and Saturday where they will take on Fort Peck Community College and will be slated for a rematch with Lake Region State.

Coach Tait on the weekend and upcoming games:

“I thought this weekend was great. I was really happy with how we played both nights, defensively especially. It is nice to have some guys back on the court. Having practice all last week with 11 guys made a huge difference in game preparation for us. I wasn’t 100% sure going in what we were going to do with matchups and substitutions but we found a rotation that worked and we stuck with it. I really thought our guys played with great energy on our home court and stuck to assignments on the defensive end of the floor in both games. Overall it was a good weekend being able to pick up two wins in our own tournament and and building some momentum into this coming weekend. We are going to sure some things up this week during practice and try and tighten up our full court and half court pressure. With a short week of practice, we are going to prepare as well as we can and head to Gillette with the goal of picking up two more wins.”

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