HELENA – Just three full weeks left in the Frontier Conference regular season schedule.
It’s been a big week for the Frontier as the roster of games produced a triple overtime result (MSU-Northern and Rocky Men), fans were treated to some big rivalry games and a Carroll athlete was named the NAIA National Player of the week.
This weekend will go a long way towards shaping the league standings as the top teams (men and women) compete against each other.
Seven regular season games remain for each team.
For the first time since February 27, 2018, a Carroll basketball player has been recognized as NAIA National Player of the Week. Cook joins former Carroll All-American and NAIA Player of the Year Ryan Imhoff as national honorees for the past five years.
Cook is also the third Frontier Conference men’s basketball to achieve national recognition in the past four seasons, joining Providence’s Zaccheus Darko-Kelly (February 9, 2021; February 11, 2020; February 18, 2020; February 26, 2020 ). and Taylor England of Montana Tech (January 7, 2020).
Cook notched a career-high 31 points and added five assists and four rebounds in Carroll’s away win against Montana Western on Thursday. The sophomore added 24 points, including 16 in the second half of the Saints’ win over 12th-ranked Tech on Saturday.
In his last six games, Cook averaged 20.2 points, four rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Cook is currently second in the league (18.2 PPG). He shoots 54.1 percent (131 to 242) from the field for the season while averaging 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Cook has shot at least 50 percent from the field in each of his last three games, totaling 28 field goals in 47 attempts (59.6 percent).
Fight for sole ownership
By Thursday evening, two teams (a men’s team, a women’s team) will hold the sole first place in the conference standings with six games to go.
Carroll and Rocky on the women’s side meet in Helena in a likely top 25 match, while Tech and Providence on the men’s side meet in Butte.
The Battlin’ Bears women are 1-0 with Carroll this season and beat the Saints 58-51 on Jan. 7 in Billings.
A win Thursday would not only knock Carroll out of first place, it would also give the Battlin’ Bears a direct tiebreak against the Saints should the two teams tie after 15 games overall.
The same goes for Tech on the men’s side. The Orediggers defeated Providence 95-82 on Jan. 7 in Butte and a win would essentially open up a two-game advantage over the Argos (Tech’s current closest competitor).
Tiebreakers are only used for tournament seeding.
The Battlin’ Bears tied with Carroll for a 13-3 best conference record in the Frontier in the last calendar year (as of January 22, 2022).
There wasn’t much demolition from Rocky’s program-record 2021-22 season.
All-American N’Dea Flye is gone, but Kloie Thatcher remains the heart and soul of the Battlin’ Bears, averaging 11.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
A mix of transfers (Morgan Baird – 11.8 PPG, Ky Buell – 7 PPG, Tynesha Parnell – 6.5 PPG), returnees (Mackenzie Dethman – 7.5 PPG, 6 RPG) and young players in bigger roles (Dominique Stephens – 9.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG , Gracee Lekvold – 5.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.1 APG) has made Rocky competitive in the Frontier and once again earned a national rank.
Defense was a big part of Rocky’s success last season, as the Battlin’ Bears finished in the top 15 in goal defense in the NAIA (55.6 PPG). That number has improved in the first 20 games of this season as Rocky will come out on Thursday at just 53.6 points per game, a top-10 mark nationally.
Only five times this season has Rocky conceded an opponent 65 or more points.
According to conference records, Rocky has never won back-to-back conference championships (regular season or tournament), but a win Thursday at Helena would put the Battlin’ Bears in the best position to achieve just that.
#12 Montana Tech 78, Rocky Mountain College 55
Providence 77, MSU-Northern 71
Carroll 85, Montana Western 81
Carroll 84, #12 Montana Tech 77
Providence 95, Montana Western 89
MSU-Northern 86, Rocky Mountain College 84
#18 Carroll 72, #12 Montana Western 60
#20 Rocky Mountain College 60, Montana Tech 48
Providence 68, MSU-Northern 40
#12 Montana Western 84, Providence 74
No. 18 Carroll 72, Montana Tech 46
No. 20 Rocky Mountain College 76, MSU-Northern 41
Frontier Conference Rankings
Montana Tech – 6-2
Providence – 6-2
Caroll – 4-4
MSU North – 3-5
Rocky Mountain College—2-6
Carroll – 7-1
Rocky Mountain College – 7-1
Providence – 2-6
Montana Tech – 2-6
MSU North – 0-8
Frontier Conference Player of the Week
Men: Guard Andrew Cook, Carroll*
Women: Forward Maddie Geritz, Carroll
* – Also named NAIA International of the Week
Frontier Conference Teams in the NAIA Coaches’ Poll (published Wednesday, January 11)**
Montana Tech – #12
Caroll – No. 18
Rocky Mountain College – #20
** – New poll to be released on Wednesday
Last week’s top performers
Carroll Guard Andrew Koch: 31 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal (Thursday vs. Montana Western) – 24 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block (Saturday vs. Montana Tech)
Rocky Mountain College forward Maxim Stephens: 24 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks (Thursday vs. Tech) – 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists (Saturday vs. MSU-Northern)
Montana Tech forward Kaleb Bellach: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal (Thursday vs. Rocky) – 27 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals (Saturday vs. Carroll)
providential guard Marcus Stephens: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals (Saturday vs. Western)
Montana West Guard Jamal Stephenson: 26 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block (Thursday vs. Carroll)
Karroll forward Maddie Geritz: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block (Thursday vs. Western) – 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist (Saturday vs. Tech)
providential guard danger of reeds: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals (Saturday vs. Western)
providence ahead Maddy Dixon: 22 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks (Thursday vs. MSU-Northern)
Montana western forward Brynley Fitzgerald: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal (Saturday vs. Providence)
Rocky Mountain College guard Kloie Thatcher: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block (Saturday vs. MSU-Northern)
Upcoming conference schedule
Men and women –
Thursday, January 26 –
Carroll vs. Rocky Mountain College
Montana Tech vs. Providence
MSU Northern vs. Montana Western
Saturday 28 January –
MSU-Northern vs. Montana Tech
Providence vs. Carroll
Rocky Mountain College vs. Montana Western