BILLINGS — After exchanging places in the league standings the final week of the season, the Rocky Mountain College and Montana State-Northern men’s basketball teams meet Tuesday for much higher stakes.
The Battlin’ Bears (17-13) travel to Havre Tuesday to meet the Lights (19-11) in the first round of the Frontier Conference Tournament. The game will begin at 7 p.m.
The winner of the league tournament receives an automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament.
Rocky and Northern met three times during the regular season, with the Lights winning all three by margins of six, nine and four points.
Jared Samuelson of the Battlin’ Bears posted double-doubles in two of the three games, having 31 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting on Dec 1 and 19 points and 10 rebounds in the third game on Feb. 27. Samuelson, of Billings, is averaging 18.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game this season.
Senior guard Chad Kananen surpassed 1,000 career points this season and enters the game with 1,079. He also has 258 career 3-pointers.
The Lights have four players averaging in double figures, led by Ryan Reeves’ 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game.
The Battlin’ Bears lost their final three games of the regular season, with Northern winning their final three to jump past Rocky in the Frontier standings. The Lights are the No. 4 seed in the tournament, while the Battlin’ Bears are No. 5.
Carroll College won the Frontier Conference regular-season title and earned a first-round bye for the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Other first-round games have Montana Tech playing at Montana Western and Providence at Lewis-Clark State.