The Raider men and women basketball teams competed in the Pizza Ranch Classic on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7. Men’s basketball finished the weekend 2-0 with a victory over Viterbo University on Friday and Bellevue University on Saturday. Women’s basketball finished the weekend 0-2 with losses to both Sterling College and Grand View University. This is just the beginning of both seasons. The teams traveled to Jamestown, North Dakota, on Wednesday for a GPAC game to continue their seasons. The men won, 91-78, and the women lost, 65-70. For the Raider men, their biggest strength this season is experience.
“We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of games,” team captain Trent Hilbrands said. “We know what it takes to have success in the GPAC.”
The 2020-21 Great Plains Athletic Conference pre-season coaches’ poll seems to agree. In this poll, GPAC officials ask the coaches who they think will win the conference, but they are not allowed to vote for their own team. The coaches placed Northwestern College as finishing second overall in the GPAC behind Morningside. So far, the men are 3-1 this season, looking in good shape for where they were placed in the poll.
Players Taylor VanderVelde and Sammy Blum said that the women’s basketball team’s greatest strength is the relationships they pursue off the court with each other. Blum loves that no matter how competitive practice gets or how it goes, the team still continues to pursue relationships with each other after practice.
In the 2020-21 GPAC women’s basketball pre-season coaches’ poll, the women Raiders are listed fourth behind Dordt University, Concordia University and Morningside College.
“The GPAC is a very tough conference and every game is a battle,” VanderVelde said. “I am excited to see how much our team grows as the season continues.”
One-way Coach Yaw sees the team growing is through consistency on the court.
“As a team we have put together some good quarters on the court. Putting those quarters together will make us all the more dangerous moving forward into the season.”
So far, the women are 0-5 this season and are looking for a victory over Midland before Thanksgiving.