The Black Hills State women's basketball team is coming off arguably its best season at the NCAA Division II level since the school gained full D-II status in 2013 as the Yellow Jackets finished the year 24-8, made it to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game and earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
The Jackets are excited to build on last year and while they need to replace the production of last year's leading scorer and first team all-conference performer Rachel Erickson, they return a solid core that includes honorable mention all-conference picks Julia Seamans and Lyndzi Rich.
Nore said, "Last year I felt like they accomplished a lot. We had no idea going into the season where we were going to be at the end. So it's just we took it all in. This year I think they trained a little bit more in the offseason with a purpose. It's just exciting being out here again and getting this crew ready to go for the season."
After finishing third in the RMAC regular season standings before falling to conference champ CSU-Pueblo in the conference championship game, expectations around Spearfish are high.
Noble said, "We have returning Keeley Bertram, Remi Wientjes and Julia Seamans and they're really great leaders for us. For underclassmen we have Cortez Standing Bear, whose more determined and her work ethic is through the roof this year ... we have Al who is a sharpshooter and our posts are doing amazing so they're going to be really great for us."
With that depth of experience back, one year stronger and one year wiser, the Yellow Jackets are looking for a return trip to the national tournament.
Wientjes said, "It definitely makes me hungrier. I'm a fifth-year senior so this is kind of the last shot I got. I made it two years before so I'm just always looking to improve and make it one step further than before."
A big part of taking that next step will come on the defensive end ... where Black Hills looks to use its pressure on that end to wreak havoc on its opponents.
Wientjes said, "We kind of just add that extra anxiety to teams and just try to speed them up. That's our goal to have our pressure make them make mistakes."
And if everything comes together for the Jackets, they fully expect to challenge for a conference championship ... which would be a major milestone for the program ...
Noble said, "We want to move past the first round and get further in the national tournament this time."