Last Saturday saw the Oredigger basketball teams in action for a doubleheader against RMAC rival Western State College at Lockridge Arena. The first game pitted the 6-12 Lady Orediggers against their 8-10 Mountaineer counterparts. Western pulled out a victory 83-78 in a game that was far more of a defensive struggle than the score would indicate. It was an intense, back-and-forth contest for the full forty minutes. The Lady Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead behind a barrage of three-point shots and a ruthless full-court press defense, and generally did an excellent job of disrupting the Mines offense for much of the first half.
Late in the half, however, the Orediggers quickened the pace of the game, using fast breaks and early shots to keep Western off-balance. Mines had pulled to within two by halftime and took a nine-point lead early in the second half, but the Western defense returned with a vengeance, and the Lady Mountaineers slowly fought their way back into the lead. Mines tried to rally in the final minutes, but the Orediggers’ chances were doomed by two fatal turnovers in the last 45 seconds. It was a disheartening loss, but the team certainly played well enough to win, and there were plenty of positives. Freshman Taylor Helbig led the Orediggers with 22 points, and junior Angie Charchalis was close behind with 21.
In the second game, the high-flying, 13-2 men’s team sought to keep pressure on #4 Metro State in the RMAC title race. The 12th-ranked Orediggers faced, at least on paper, a weaker opponent in the 6-10 Mountaineers. It certainly seemed that way at the start, as Mines dominated the first half en route to a sixteen-point lead at the break. Between the excellence on the court and the lively renditions of famous movie soundtracks by the band, notably the themes from “Ghostbusters,” “Gremlins,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Lockridge was rocking and the game seemed to be in hand. In the second half, however, it would turn out to be a much different story, as Western finally found a way to stop the Orediggers’ effortless layups and began hacking away at the lead. The Mountaineers closed to within four points several times, but Mines held them just at bay, grinding out the final few minutes of a 69-63 victory.
Mines improved to 10-2 in RMAC play, keeping pace one game behind Metro State, which escaped upset-hungry Adams State 52-51 in Denver. Mines owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Metro by virtue of its 68-57 victory in Lockridge on January 6, and the Orediggers are in excellent position to claim the RMAC title should Metro slip up. The Orediggers return to action next Friday, January 27, in a home doubleheader against Chadron State. The women’s team tips off at 6:00 PM, while the men’s game begins at 8:00 PM.