Jonny Hillman versus Providence 2021

Carroll sophomore Jonny Hillman drives the basketball against Providence junior Davien Harris-Williams.

HELENA  Providence claimed the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Frontier Conference Tournament with an 81-76 win over Montana Western on Wednesday. A loss to Carroll on Sunday interrupted a six-game win streak for the Argonauts, but it has been pretty smooth sailing for a Providence team that sits at 13-2.

Carroll would secure the No. 2 seed in the league playoffs with its next win or another loss by Montana Tech after the Saints split games with Providence last weekend. All of that means the top two teams in this week’s edition of the 2020-2021 Frontier men’s basketball power rankings remain unchanged heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

1. Providence -- 13-2, 13-2 Frontier

The Argonauts were dealt their first loss since Jan. 30 last Sunday against Carroll, but still locked up a regular season championship on Wednesday. One of the best scoring offenses in the country, Providence is currently the 10th-ranked team in the NAIA top 25 poll and is ranked inside the top-25 nationally in four statistical categories.

Senior Zaccheus Darko-Kelly paces the league in both points and rebounds per game at 19.1 and 9.2, respectively. He scored 14 points in the regular season title-clinching victory over Western on Wednesday and added 20 points in a win over Carroll on Saturday. All told, four Argonauts average in double figures.

2. Carroll -- 14-6, 11-5 Frontier

The Saints got their first win over Providence this season on Sunday in a 74-68 victory. While it put them on the path to claim the No. 1 seed in the league tournament (since claimed by Providence), Carroll’s next win gives them the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye anyway. That will be the first priority for the Saints against Western this weekend in Dillon.

Junior Jovan Sljivancanin notched two double-doubles last weekend and sits third in the conference in scoring at 18.3 points per game. Fellow junior Shamrock Campbell dropped 27 points in Carroll’s win over Providence on Sunday and is No. 2 in the country in assist-to-turnover with a 5.0 mark.

3. Montana Western -- 7-10, 6-10 Frontier

The Bulldogs swept Northern last weekend on the road, but came up just short against Providence on Wednesday after leading by seven points at halftime. That strong showing on the road against the Argonauts, as well as Western’s four wins in the last five games, gives the Bulldogs the nod over Tech for third place this week. Western will end its regular season at home against Carroll.

Senior Jalen Hodges averages 19.4 points per game, a number that would be leading the conference if he had played in enough games to qualify. Nevertheless, it was senior Max Clark who earned Frontier men’s Player-of-the-Week following a 39-point performance against Northern on Saturday. Clark scores an average of 15.4 points per contest, second-best on Western’s roster.

4. Montana Tech -- 11-9, 11-7 Frontier

The Orediggers handled Rocky Mountain College over the weekend, ending a two-game slide after playing Providence on Feb. 6 and 7. Tech needs Carroll to lose its remaining two games and the Orediggers need to sweep Northern this weekend to claim the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.

Senior Sindou Diallo is the conference’s second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, while senior Cody Baumstarck paces the league in blocks per contest at 1.6. Three Orediggers average double figures as Tech owns the third-best scoring offense in the Frontier.

5. Montana State-Northern -- 6-10, 5-10 Frontier

The Lights were swept by Western last weekend, extending their losing streak to six games. After winning three consecutive games in late-January to get back over the .500 mark, Northern has not won a game, and has slowly slipped down the Frontier standings.

Seniors Mascio McCadney, David Harris and junior Jomel Boyd average at least 13 points per game for the Lights. Still, Northern owns a negative scoring margin, allowing 70.7 points per contest to its opponents.

6. Rocky Mountain College -- 1-14, 1-13 Frontier

The Battlin’ Bears lost two more times against Tech over the weekend, running their losing streak to 13 games. Rocky Mountain has not won a game since Jan. 5 against Western and still has to play Providence to round out its regular season slate.

As a team, Rocky Mountain is last in the Frontier in scoring offense and allows opponents to score 77.1 points per game, a number that puts the Battlin’ Bears fourth in the conference.

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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