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Lopers poised to crash RMAC party: Early upset of preseason RMAC favorite has team knockin' at the front door
Jason Arens
Antelope Staff
Photos by A Sanam Bhaila
Senior center Josiah Parker of Lincoln throws down a slam dunk against New Mexico-Highlands.
Sophomore guard Max Froelich of Pierce puts up a layup against Highlands last week.

Note to self – never underestimate an opponent. These must have been the thoughts of the pre-season RMAC favorites New Mexico Highlands after their road trip to Kearney to take on the men’s basketball team on Dec. 4.

The Lopers defeated New Mexico Highlands by a count of 101-90, led by a 23-point performance by freshman point guard Akeem Morissaint. The Lopers have shot out of the gates strong, starting the season with a (6-2/5-3) record, most recently (defeating/losing to) Colorado State University-Pueblo on Dec. 5. 

The Lopers have had some tough early-season losses, but continue to look forward to the rest of the season. Co-head coach Tom Kropp gave his thoughts on whether or not the team had met early-season expectations. “Well it’s hard to say. We really didn’t know where we would be at this point. We’re happy to have the current record that we do, but we want to get better every night. That’s our goal, and so far that is what we have been doing,” he said.

As the season progresses, the individual players begin to step out as leaders for the team. Max Froehlich is a leader on the court who has tenacious defense and great scoring ability, and is third on the team with points per game.  Akeem Morissaint is a true freshman point guard who has stepped onto the scene as a big time scorer for the Lopers with a smooth 3-point shot, and is second on the team in scoring.

But there is one player who has really been the solid rock for the Loper squad, and is coach Kropp’s early season MVP. “Josiah Parker is our 6’10” post player who has been dominating the paint so far this season,” Kropp said. “He’s averaging nearly 20 points and five blocks a game, which is just phenomenal. He’s certainly been our most outstanding player.”

With big play from the big man Parker, nice shooting from Froehlich and Morissaint, and great support from role players like Jeremy Cruise, Chris Deans and Drew Sankey, this basketball squad may be taking the RMAC by surprise. After all, the Lopers, who were projected to finish sixth in the conference, have already knocked off the projected No. 1 team in the conference New Mexico Highlands.

Only time will tell how the season shapes up for the Lopers, but there is no doubt that the potential for a memorable season is within grasp. The Lopers will next travel out to Alamosa, Colo. to take on Adams State College on Dec. 11.

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