Orediggers close Day 1 with rout 109-64 of Storm

Orediggers close Day 1 with rout 109-64 of Storm
Montana Tech’s Chris O’Neill goes to the hoop between Nueta Hidatsa’s Levi Fairbanks, left, and Jarren Estes Friday night at the HPER Complex. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

It will almost be like a midterm test for the Montana Tech men’s basketball team.

After three games in which the outcome was never in doubt, the Orediggers will face Dickinson State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the finale of the Payne West Montana Tech Tip Off Classic.

“It’s going to be a tremendous test for us,” Montana Tech second-year coach Adam Hiatt said.

The coach’s comments came after his new-look Orediggers beat Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College 109-64 Friday night. Stats

While many fans never heard of the Nueta Hidatsa, a tribal school from New Town, North Dakota, and even others struggled pronouncing it, the players for the Storm impressed Hiatt.

“I liked that team that came in,” the Tech coach said. “They played their butt off the whole time. They competed. They battled. From start to finish, they never gave up.”

Still, the Storm, who play Montana Western at the HPER at 11 a.m. Saturday, were no match for any Frontier Conference team. It’s just like Yellowstone Christian was no match for the Orediggers, or how the Orediggers were no match for the University of Utah.

Those are Tech’s three opponents this season, so there has been no drama for the Orediggers. Also, the schedule has given the Orediggers no real gauge on how good they are.

Until Saturday, that is. The Blue Hawks, who took Western to overtime Friday, will certainly be a handful for the Orediggers, and that is exactly what Hiatt wants.

“We’re really looking forward to tomorrow and an opportunity to play a really good team,” Hiatt said. “At this point in the season, we don’t really know who were are yet. We don’t know what we’re capable of accomplishing because we’ve had three contests now, and all three have been lopsided in either direction.”

On Friday, the Orediggers did what they could do. Five Tech players scored in double figures as the Orediggers went wire to wire to rout a team they should have routed.

John Chapman came off the bench to score 21 points to lead Tech, which led 51-28 at halftime.

“He played with good rhythm,” Hiatt said of Chapman. “John has been playing very well, even against Utah on Wednesday. He played with good rhythm and confidence.”

Jake Miles added 17 points, while Dylan Pannabecker and Chris O’Neill each scored 13 and Nick Fitts tossed in 12.

In all, 10 Orediggers found the scorebook, with Darrius Collins scoring nine, Taylor England tossing in eight, Iman Chatman netting seven, Kale Guldseth scoring six and Gavin McPherson scoring three.

Carson Dummer started but did not score. He pulled down six rebounds, one behind Pannabecker and Chatman for the team lead.

“We’re just trying to get all our guys to buy into what we’re teaching,” Hiatt said. “The ones who have great buy in are the ones who are playing consistency well.”

Guldseth dished out five assists. O’Neill and Chatman each dished four.

Gabe Archambault scored 18 points to lead the Storm. Covey Hale and Jarren Estes each scored 10. Levi Fairbanks pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

While Hiatt said he expects to learn a ton about his team during the Dickinson test Saturday, he already feels he has something special brewing in his second year on campus.

“It’s a team that we expect to get better each week throughout the year,” Hiatt said. “There is tremendous promise for this group.”

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