Sometimes you need a little help from your enemies.
The Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team finds itself in that predicament this weekend as the regular season winds toward Saturday’s conclusion.
The Skyhawks (15-9, 12-8 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) have aspirations of hosting a conference tournament game for the 12th consecutive season. To earn that right, the fifth-place Skyhawks need to climb into a top-four finish in the conference.
“It is a benchmark for our program. For the last 11 years, we have been in the top four in conference and earned a home game,” FLC head coach Bob Hofman said. “It is going to be tough to achieve it this year because our fate is in the hands of Mines and Metro, along with our own.”
FLC needs to pick up a pair of home wins this weekend against Western State (3-21, 3-17 RMAC) on Friday and Colorado Mesa (13-11, 11-9 RMAC) on Saturday.
The Skyhawks also are rooting for No. 1 Metro State (23-1, 20-0 RMAC) to beat CSU-Pueblo (14-10, 12-8 RMAC) and for Colorado Mines to defeat Colorado Christian (15-10, 13-8 RMAC) on Saturday.
“We have as much control over our future as we could want,” Hofman said. “We will know when the game Friday is over whether the game Saturday will be for home court or not. We have had some real tough losses. Now, it might be a nice time to get some tough wins.”
The Skyhawks had a record-setting day the last time they faced the Western State Mountaineers on Dec. 21:
FLC won the game 120-78, setting a school record for points in a game against a Division II opponent.
FLC also connected on 21-of-34 3-pointers, good for another school record.
“The Western game is really scary for us because we played so well against them at their place. Traditionally, they bounce back,” Hofman said. “I think they will probably do quite a bit of adjusting when they play us this time. No way will we shoot as well as we did at their place.”
The Mountaineers will enter Friday’s game on a two-game losing streak. Western State has yet to win on the road this season in 13 trips.
FLC averages just less than 86 points per game on 47.9-percent shooting from the field.
Western State is scoring an average of only 67.4 points per game on 42-percent shooting from the field.
Skyhawks’ junior center Alex Herrera enters this weekend’s games already having eclipsed the 1,000-point career scoring mark. His career-high 32 points last Saturday in an 83-80 win at Regis put him at 1,001 career points.
Herrera also set a new FLC single-season blocks record at 85, surpassing the record of 84 he set his sophomore season.
Colorado Mesa presents a challenge for Herrera and the Skyhawks, who lost to the Mavericks 93-67 on Dec. 20.
The Mavericks scored 57 points on 68-percent shooting from the field in the second half of that game with sophomore Ryan Stephan going for 21 points and 13 rebounds. Stephan held Herrera to just eight points and five rebounds in that game.
Four FLC seniors — Oscar Garcia, Mike Matthews, Wes McKenzie and Nick Tomsick — have a special night ahead Saturday, which is senior night at Whalen Gymnasium. Hofman hopes the festivities are enhanced by a capacity crowd both nights.
“It is a big deal. It starts Friday night when we do a big celebration of the team from the era called ‘Campus in the Sky.’ Saturday is also very special for the parents that come up to be honored along with their son,” Hofman said. “It will be a big occasion.”