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College basketball preview: Thunder men look to rebound

After having its winning season ever in 2016-17, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College men's basketball team fell to 5-16 and a fifth-place finish in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference last season.

This season the team returns five players from last year's squad, including starters Kevin Bryant and Donta Jones. In the team's first game against the Crown College junior varsity team, Bryant was 9-for-16 for 25 points, but he also committed three turnovers in the Thunder's 82-72 loss Nov. 13 in St. Bonifacius.

Jones also had a good shooting night in the opened, going 7-for-11 and scoring 17 points. The Thunder as a team shot nearly 56 percent from the field but were just 23 percent from 3-point range, something it will need to improve if the team wants to improve its record in 2018-19.

Coach Brian Burtnyk returns for his second season at the helm for FDLTCC.

Local players power Thunder women's return

FDLTCC didn't have a women's basketball team in 2017-18, but first-year coach Robert Smith is relying on some local players the Thunder's return to action this season.

Cloquet's Carissa Sorenson-Anderson, Fond du Lac Ojibwe's Aleisha Fox and South Ridge's Meredith Churne are expected to be the team's top players in what Smith expects to be a challenging, but fun, season.

The team lost its opener to Lake Superior College 76-27 on Nov. 16, but Smith said he "learned a lot" about his team and his goal this season is to improve with each game and practice.

"A successful season for us is just getting better every day," Smith said. "In practice we just try to create great habits that translate in life and on the court."

The Thunder women will play Anoka-Ramsey at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in Coon Rapids. The Thunder men will play at 8:30 p.m.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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