BUTTE — After spending the past months in a holding pattern, the Montana Tech women's basketball team is finally ready for its season to take off.
After seeing their first seven games called off due to COVID-19, the Orediggers are set to open their season with a doubleheader in Dillon against Montana Western on Saturday and Sunday. Both games are slated to tip off at 2 p.m.
"It's so exciting," said senior forward Mesa Williams during a practice at the HPER Complex on Friday. "And it's such a relief. It's been so stressful with not knowing what's going to happen. It's just been such an emotional roller coaster."
Tech was supposed to begin its season on Oct. 25 at Dickinson State. COVID-19 wiped out that game and then half a dozen more, including a non-conference tilt against Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference.
For Williams, seeing her senior season begin to evaporate was frustrating, but she remained focused and knew, at some point, she and her teammates would take the court again.
"It's hard, that's for sure," Williams said. "I definitely struggled at the beginning. But I think the biggest thing you've got to keep in mind is that at the end of the year there's still going to be a winner, still going to be losers and we've got to come into practice every day prepared like we're going to play tomorrow."
"I think everybody is learning patience," echoed Tech head coach Carly Sanon. "It's ever-changing how you can get it, what's causing it. You just have to be patient. I think our players are adjusting well."
William is one of four seniors on Tech's roster, the others being Mollie Peoples, Hailey Crawford and Brooke Heggie.
Tech also returns sophomore Tavia Rooney who led the Frontier Conference in rebounds per game last season with 10.9. Williams, Rooney and Peoples were all top-5 scorers for the Orediggers last season, as was junior guard Dani Urick.
Last season, Tech went 14-17 overall and 4-14 in conference play, bowing out of the Frontier Conference tournament in the first round with a loss to Lewis-Clark State College.
Montana Western has already played three games this season, falling to Oregon State on the road and then sweeping the College of Idaho at home. With the NAIA national tournament called off in March, the Bulldogs are still the reigning national champions.
Tech faces a tall task, but Sanon feels her team is ready for the challenge. And at the end of the day, they're just grateful to be playing.
"We're excited, we have a lot of experience, we have a lot of people coming back and we're just ready to get out and have some fun and play some basketball," Sanon said.