For the second time this season, the Carroll men's basketball team gets a dance with Salish Kootenai College.
This time, in Helena.
Salish Kootenai College, with its eyes set on a future in the Frontier Conference and a present of wanting to play the highest level of competition ahead of its national tournament this spring, built a schedule that includes most of the schools in the area, and a majority of the Frontier.
“We play hard and I try to schedule the toughest schedule for our guys,” coach Zach Camel said recently. “When we get into our tournament we’re not going to see that level of team. We’ve won this thing, heck, 11 times. I just want our guys to have the experience of playing Frontier level players, and really good teams so we can build for our tournament.”
The Bison will play in the American Indian Higher Education National Basketball Championship. Scheduling home-and-home games with Frontier teams gives the Bison a shot at understanding the travel required to play in the Frontier and exposes players to new environments outside of Pablo.
The Saints relish the chance to pack another game in the schedule and stay sharp themselves. Without the game, Carroll would have gone about 11 days between games. The tune-up in Helena against SKC gives the Saints one game this week before Carroll turns its focus to a California road trip, which pits the Saints against three tough opponents in three days.
The game in Helena will be less about the result and more about the process. Carroll won in Pablo 125-53 in October, and a season ago set the school record for points scored with a 140-73 win over the Bison.
The Saints are led by All-American Ryan Imhoff, who is averaging 20.25 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Matt Wyman is also a major contributor.
Wyman leads in the nation in field goal percentage at 72 percent while averaging 17.5 points per game. Match Burnham is the only other Saints player averaging more than 10 points per game with his 15.1 ppg.
While those are the Saints leaders, fans can expect to many combinations of Saints on Friday at the PE Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.