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Basketball returns to action following Christmas break

| January 5, 2022 12:00 AM

Velcro down basketball fans, the boys are back from winter break and ready to rumble.

The 14C and the Western B return to action after Christmas and head into the New Year beginning tonight (Tuesday).

The key action on the boys side will involve the leadership of the Western 14C, which at this time shapes up as a battle between the St. Regis Tiger and the Hot Springs Savage Heat.

But first, a battle to stay out of the cellar takes place in Two Eagle River tonight (Tuesday, Jan 4) when the winless Eagles host the Noxon Red Devils. Noxon comes into the game having a recorded a single victory, over Superior, in the 2021 portion of the season. Two Eagles, although they have played some teams close for much of the game, have yet to win a game.

Noxon is hoping to get a boost from the return of power forward Cade VanVleet who injured his leg in the game against Superior. While not a prolific scorer, VanVleet and his 6-1, 260-pounds from give the Red Devils a badly needed inside presence.

Two nights later, a classic match-up between Interstate 90 rivals kicks off the area basketball scene in Mineral County when conference co-leader St. Regis travels the 14 miles down 1-90 for a match-up with long-time rival Superior.

St. Regis comes into the contest with a 3-2 overall record, including 3-0 in conference play. The Tigers feature a swarming defense that applies constant ball pressure. On offense Tanner Day has emerged as one of the leading scorers and rebounders in the conference. The return of junior Caleb Ball from an ankle injury gives coach Jesse Allan’s squad additional offensive firepower to go with the deadly outside shooting of youngsters John Pruitt and a pair of freshmen.

The Tigers also have senior Adam Ball, who along with Day control the glass on both ends of the court.

Superior, meanwhile, comes into the contest with a 1-5 record, their lone win being a dismantling of Two Eagle River just before the break. The Bobcats feature one of the best players in the conference in 6-1 junior forward Orion Plaake, who netted 35 points in the win over Two Eagle.

Friday night in St. Regis is the feature game of the week when the Savage Heat from Hot Springs come to town in a showdown for a spot atop the 14C. The Heat come to town with a 4-1 overall mark, their lone loss being a nine-point setback to the Ronan JV in the year’s season-opening tourney.

Hot Springs features a pair of senior leaders in 5-11 Jack McAllister and 6-0 Kyle Lawson, both of whom can score and rebound with the best of them. McAllister is a leather-tough, versatile player who most league coaches regard as among the top two or three players in the conference.

The Savage Heat feature experienced depth, led by 6-1 Nathan Lawhead and 6-3 junior transfer from Plains, Garth Parker.

This first week back from the Holiday break winds up with Saturday games featuring Superior at Hot Springs and Noxon at Charlo.

The regions two Western B schools, Thompson Falls and Plains will also be in action this week.

Thompson Falls faces a stern test against the Mission Bulldogs this week when they host the 5-0 St. Ignatius-based team Thursday night. The Blue Hawks are 4-2 on the year and are led by senior guard Nathan Schraeder and 6-3 junior forward Jesse Claridge.

Friday night the Blue Hawks travel to Eureka for another conference matchup with the Lions.

Plains, meanwhile, will be looking for its first win of the year when they host Charlo for a meeting with the Vikings. The sophomore and freshman dominated Horsemen are in the midst of a rebuilding year and will be counting on the youngsters and some upcoming players from lower grades to improve their basketball future.

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