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The men
The men's team got to take in a Denver Nuggets game prior to boarding the plane for Florida over Christmas break.

Men's Regular Season Comes to a Close This Weekend

By Scott Lemon, Yellowstone Christian SID

BILLINGS, Mont. — Twenty-nine total games, nine games at The Shrine, well over 10,000 miles on the road, an official 9-14 record, and two games to go: that, in a nutshell, has been the season for the Yellowstone Christian College men’s basketball team.

This weekend, the men’s basketball team will board the bus one more time on Friday morning and make the 460-mile trip to Kyle, S.D. to take on the Oglala Lakota Bravehearts on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Barring an invitation to post-season play, these will be the final games for the Centurions this year. However, as this year comes to a close, the Centurions have seen trials, growth, and maturity over the course of the season.

YCC squared up to a brutal start to their season, facing four Frontier Conference teams as well as a very good Dickinson State team. All but two of these games came on the road, including trips across the state to Havre, Butte, and Great Falls.

However, these early season tests prepared the men to match up well against some of the NJCAA’s best later on in the season, including a gritty road win in early November against Northwest College with a hostile Powell crowd breathing down their necks the entire game.

The Centurions also matched up against some of the top-tier talent in the region, including NAIA nationally-ranked Montana Western and MSU-Northern, who was receiving NAIA top-25 votes at the time of the game in late October.

YCC also faced off against a pair of NCAA D-II institutions for exhibition games, bookending a rugged road trip during Thanksgiving week. The Centurions had never faced a single D-II school in program history. Yellowstone fell 85-53 to a good University of Mary squad, who compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Two nights later, YCC had a better showing against the Yellow Jackets of Black Hills State University, falling by a score of 86-77. BHSU is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, a conference that frequently sees members make deep postseason runs in national tournaments. The Centurions had many chances to pick up a victory that night, but missed opportunities late in the game sealed the game for BHSU.

Every player on the Centurion roster is an underclassman. However, they have seen significant contributions from nearly every player on the active roster. Two players are scoring in double-figures this season, both of whom are freshmen. Aaron Munday-Rashid, a versatile, athletic guard, is leading the team scoring nearly 13 points per game. Not far behind him is the sharpshooting guard Aleksandar Brankovic, averaging just over 11 points per game.

Freshman Taylan Barrett has made his biggest impact on the defensive end, averaging five rebounds, 0.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals per contest this season.

Sophomore Stefan Tellis has filled the shoes of Keegan Oyugi very well this season. Oyugi was forced to take a medical redshirt after off-season knee surgery. Tellis has responded with well-rounded basketball, averaging 9.2 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.9 steals per game.

After a long, tough season full of wins, losses, trials, and accomplishments, it’s hard to believe that the season is already coming to a close. However, these young men have played well and have represented Yellowstone Christian College with class and humility on the court. Two more, gentlemen. That’s all you’re guaranteed this season. Make it count.

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