SPEARFISH — Leadership and adjustments helped the Black Hills State University women’s basketball team return to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament to end the 2019-20 season.
The Yellow Jackets finished 14-8 in conference play, 17-11 overall. Black Hills State brought the number 5 seed into the tournament for which they have qualified six times in the last seven seasons.
“We went through a lot of adjustments, different roles on the team, a lot of new bodies,” Yellow Jackets’ head coach Mark Nore said in recapping the campaign.
Nore said the players grew together as a unit, with some key players stepping up and enjoying good seasons.
Black Hills State lost leaders from the 2018-19 season, and Nore said that posed perhaps the biggest challenge going into this year. He added Abby Switzer, Racquel Wientjes, and Morgan Ham shared that role this season.
Depth served as a strong suit going into this season, according to Nore.
“We had a team with different kids stepping up throughout the season,” Nore said. “We’re a hard team to scout that way.”
Nonconference play began with Black Hills State at 3-2.
A 71-65 loss to Dixie State dropped the Yellow Jackets’ conference mark to 1-2. Black Hills State edged Western State 49-47 for a third straight win and 4-2 RMAC mark.
The Yellow Jackets won three of their next four games. They downed UC-Colorado Springs 79-62 and improved to 7-3 in the RMAC.
Black Hills State won seven of its next 12 games. A 60-58 win over South Dakota School of Mines and Technology ended the regular season.
Fourth-seeded Colorado Mines defeated Black Hills State 66-44 to end the Yellow Jackets’ campaign.
“I think we just became more consistent, and that was due to understanding roles and getting the rotation, and growing in leadership,” Nore said in discussing the team’s evolution throughout the season.
Nore highlighted the 74-66 win over Fort Lewis win in Spearfish because, he said, it showcased what the team could do. He added the win over UC-Colorado Springs game showcased how the team was able to score.
Grit and fighting spirit highlighted the Western State win for Nore. Black Hills State claimed a 12-3 scoring edge in the fourth quarter to prevail.
“The game that kind of solidified it was the regular-season game at Colorado School of Mines,” he said. “We really executed as well as we have all year.” Black Hills State won that game 55-48.
Wientjes earned a Defensive Player of the Week award from the conference. Nore said she showed a lot of grit and really grew as a player. Wientjes collected 14 and 11 rebounds in two separate games.
Nore said Switzer grew into a leadership role, with Ashlee Beacom developing into a really solid player. Niki Van Wyk and Ham also earned Nore’s praise.
Switzer was the lone senior on the active roster. “She had to come out of her shell a lot,” Nore said.
“From the time Abby (Switzer) was a freshman to the time she was a senior: I think that was a highlight, too, for me,” Nore said. He explained the senior provided a lot of impact on and off the court in many ways.
Nore said the players must continue to grow. He added leadership will provide a defining area, with players and coaches holding players accountable.
“That will solve a lot of issues,” he said.
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