The Men’s and Women’s basketball teams kick off their respective seasons this weekend at home. The Women’s basketball team tips off Friday night after being picked to finish 5th in the North Star Athletic Conference Pre-Season rankings following a year in which they finished 7th in with an overall record of 8-22 and going 5-11 in conference play. The Lady T’s, under new coaches in David Moe and Jamal Branco, look to get back on track this season and that starts with their culture. “Our biggest thing is establishing a culture here. Which is, controlling the things that you can control and following three simple words; Effort, Attitude and Respect”, said Head Coach Moe. The Lady T’s will have their work cut out for them as they look for a new leading scorer as they lost BreeAna Olson to graduation in the offseason who averaged nearly 15 points a game. They do, however, return assist leader from a year ago in Kennedy Wagner who averaged 10.7 points a game, and their rebounding leader, Britley Plautz. The Lady T’s have three seniors on the roster this year, Kennedy Wagner, Shemika Frazier and Shelby Vogel, all who will look to have big final years. A pair of players to watch this season for the Lady Trojans is Kennedy Wagner, a Senior Guard, and Jamie Tebben, their Sophomore Forward. The Lady T’s will tip off Friday night in the Dakota State Fieldhouse against College of Saint Mary (NE) at 8 pm. Their Conference schedule opens up against 9th ranked Jamestown (ND) at home on December 1st.
The Trojan men will aim to return to the form that landed them back to back Conference Championships and National Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2016. Last year was a “very underachieving” season for the Trojans as Assistant Mike Larsen would put it. Going 16-16 overall with an 8-8 record in the conference. Larsen, in his 7th season, added, “We just didn’t come together as a unit which didn’t allow us to reach our potential”. The Trojans have been picked to finish 7th in the NSAA Pre-season poll after finishing 6th last year. They lose a big part of their offense as their point, rebound, and assist leaders have graduated. Kyle Kilgore led the Trojans last year, averaging 17.5 points a game with 8.4 rebounds, while Tanner Heiser averaged 14.4 points a night with 4.4 steals. The Trojans look to get back to their winning ways. This started when the Trojans landed their 4 recruits over the summer in the form of two transfers and two solid freshmen, but also with solid returners in Kevin Daniels, who averaged 11 points and 2 assists last year, as well as Justin Folkers, who averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a night. Larsen says that the focus in the offseason has been “hard work and maintaining a high level. We have been focusing on coming together as a complete unit, and focusing on the positive”. The brunt of what the Trojans look to accomplish this season will be put on Senior Guard Kevin Daniels, Junior Forward Keeon Johnson, Junior Forward Maurice Arrington, and Junior Forward Justin Folkers. Larsen explains, “we have 9 guys playing, it’s not just going to be about 1 guy, we have a solid group of guys 1-9”. The Trojans open up at home Saturday night as part of the Dakota State Tournament against Oak Hills Christian College (MN). Tip-off for that affair is set for 9 p.m. The Trojans will begin their conference play at home against the University of Jamestown (ND) on December 1st.