Tiger Basketball returns home this weekend after women play a re-scheduled road game tonight

BY MAKENNA ALLEN

It’s a busy week for Tiger basketball as the men’s and women’s teams combined will see a total of five games of action.  After two successful games in Wichita against Newman last weekend, both teams will return to Gross Memorial Coliseum for a slate full of more basketball this weekend.

The women’s team, however, will take a slight detour along the way as they travel to Edmond, Oklahoma to take on the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos this evening.  The game was originally set to take place on Jan. 2.  However, the Tigers will now play a twice-rescheduled home game against Emporia State on that same date.

As the Tigers head south, they travel with the momentum from a strong 68-48 victory over the Newman Jets on Saturday.  While the game concluded with a commanding lead for FHSU and with the Tigers shooting 57.1% from the field, the entire game did not follow this course.  In fact, the Tigers were leading by just one point (21-20) at the half and were sinking just 25% of shots.

Once the team took the court after halftime, the Tigers’ energy markedly changed.  Ultimately, the Tigers outscored the Jets 31-11 during the third quarter and by the end of the game, four Tigers had recorded points for the night in the double figures.  

Senior guards, Whitney Randall and Jaden Hobbs, put up 15 and 12-points respectively.  Also in double figures were freshman and junior guards, Sydney Golladay and Cydney Bergmann.  

The Tigers look to extend their two-game winning streak on the road in Edmond this evening. Meanwhile, the Bronchos are hoping to end a two-game dry spell after their most recent loss to Nebraska-Kearney last weekend.  The Bronchos currently sit at 2-2.  They are 40.7% from the field, 25% from beyond the 3-point arc, and 66% from the free-throw line. 

As the Tigers hope to continue their undefeated season, the Bronchos will not be the only opponent for the women’s basketball team.  Later this week, the Tigers will return to Hays to take on the Northeastern State RiverHawks and the Rogers State Hillcats.  

The RiverHawks are first on this list of opponents as the Tigers tip off Friday evening in Gross Memorial.  Like the Bronchos, the Riverhawks are fighting a two-game losing streak.  They currently sit at 2-3 with wins in the first two weeks of play against Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western.  Last weekend, the team fell to Pittsburg State by a tight two-point margin.  

As the RiverHawks hope to pick up their third win of the season, they are 43.3% from the field, 29.9% from beyond the 3 point-arc and 82.1% from the free-throw line.  Following their game against the Tigers, the Northeastern State women’s basketball team will head to Kearney for a Sunday afternoon of play.  

The Tigers’ next opponent will have just come from that same location. On Sunday, the women’s team will take on the Rogers State Hillcats.  The team is 1-4 for the season and has only been able to bring home a victory against Pittsburg State.  More recently, the Hillcats suffered losses to both Missouri Southern and Washburn on their own court.  They hope to break their three-game losing streak on the road in Hays this weekend.  

While the FHSU women’s basketball team prepares for a packed week, the men’s team looks to a full schedule that does not require any time on the road.  Beginning Friday after the women’s game, the men’s Tiger team will take on the 1-3 RiverHawks.  

The sole victory for the team this season comes from a win against Missouri Southern.  The team is currently on a two-game losing streak after match-ups against Pittsburg State and Missouri Western that ended in defeat.  

In contrast, the Tigers are still hot from victories in their last two games.  Though the Tigers did not record the exhibition win over K-State towards the regular season of games, the team did manage to bring home their first conference victory of the season on Saturday.  After traveling to Wichita for a back-and-forth game that resulted in overtime, the Tigers defeated the Newman Jets 81-75.  

Redshirt freshman guard, Kaleb Hammeke, led the team in the scoring effort as he recorded a career-high of 20-points during the game.  He also had five assists and went 4-4 from the free-throw line.  Meanwhile, senior forward, Jared Vitztum, contributed 19 points to the overall score and recorded his third double-double this season.  

Like Hammeke, sophomore forward, Gilbert Peters, set a career-high of 18 points during the game.  Also to join the rank of players with points in the double digits that night was freshman guard, Quinten Rock.

Though men’s basketball head coach, Mark Johnson, had to watch the game from home due to COVID protocols, he will return to the court this weekend for a pair of potentially challenging games.

“I thought we did a really good job on Saturday to find a way to win and it took us an overtime on the road against a team with one win,” Johnson said.  “That’ll be the same this week. We’ve got two teams coming up here with one win and they’re both really good.  It’ll take good effort.”

According to Johnson, this occurrence is something unprecedented during his time as a coach in the MIAA.

“We have four teams this week with one win and they’re all scary good.  That’s just amazing,” Johnson said.  “There’s not another league in the country that can say that.  I don’t think there’s another sport within our league that can say that.  Right now, the MIAA is just as competitive as I can ever remember a league being.”

Indeed, the RiverHawks and the Tigers’ second opponent for the weekend hold just one win this season.  In fact, the RiverHawks and Rogers State Hillcats and FHSU Tigers make up three of four teams that have recorded only one victory.  

For the Hillcats, the team’s singular victory has been an overtime defeat of Pittsburg State nearly three weeks ago.  The team is now on a three-game losing streak after recent losses to Missouri Western and Washburn.  Before traveling to Hays, the Hillcats will also take on the fourth 1-4 team, Nebraska-Kearney.  

Though the Tigers hope for a home-court advantage that may move the team towards a winning record, the unusually competitive nature of men’s basketball in the MIAA is something that has paired with the dynamic of crowdless games to create a unique season for all teams.  According to Johnson, the road teams in the league are three games over .500.  He believes this may be due to the removal of the home-court advantage in a season marked by COVID-19 and a lack of physical support from a fanbase.

“These home games are kind of different games than they’ve been in the past,” Johnson said. “You don’t have quite the home-court advantage.  Either home or away, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference right now.”

You cant tune into the women’s game against the Bronchos on the MIAA Network tonight at 6:00 p.m. and can head to the FHSU athletics website on Wednesday to purchase general admissions tickets to this weekend’s slate of competitions.  

Weekend Basketball Schedule:

  • Women’s Basketball vs. Northeastern State Riverhawks, 5:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball vs. Northeastern State Riverhawks, 7:30 p.m.
  • Women’s Basketball vs. Rogers State Hillcats, 2:00 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball vs. Rogers State Hillcats, 4:00 p.m.

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