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Eric Peterson, Published February 24 2010

Men's basketball: Vikings break DAC drought

Valley City State head men’s basketball coach Jeff Kaminsky created a makeshift time capsule earlier this week, in the wake of VCSU breaking a conference title drought.

The Vikings earned a share of their first Dakota Athletic Conference title after scoring a 78-64 win against Mayville State on Saturday. The DAC was formed in 2000-01.

VCSU previously won a conference title in 1990-91.

“We came in on Monday before practice, brought part of the net and the scissors we used to cut it down and a bunch of e-mail congratulations that we had,” Kaminsky said. “We put them all in a box, closed the box and said that box is not going to be open again until our season is over.”

The Vikings (19-9) are the No. 2 seed for the DAC tournament, which starts tonight. VCSU hosts No. 7 seed Dakota State at 7:30 p.m. at W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse. Black Hills State, which shared the league crown with VCSU, is the top seed.

“The most satisfying aspect of this group is just their commitment to getting better each week and that ultimately resulted in getting a share of the conference title,” Kaminsky said. “I think what really needs to be noted is just the strength of this conference. … We really had to earn this thing.”

Balanced has played a key role for the Vikings, who were picked to finish sixth in the preseason DAC coaches’ poll.

VCSU has six players who are averaging between 9.4 and 12.6 points per game. Junior guard Calvin Kraft, a former Central Cass (N.D.) High School standout, is the team’s leading scorer.

Kraft has been in the program for four years, including a redshirt year.

Senior guards Orlando Anderson, and Dareon Spencer, senior forward Chris Fuqua, junior center Mark Klingberg and junior forward Tyler Macomber have also been important contributors this season.

“We do have some experience, guys that have been in the program for a while,” Kaminsky said. “To me, that’s always a good starting point.”

Because VCSU was ranked three spots outside the Top 25 in the final NAIA Division II poll, the Vikings need to win the DAC tournament to earn a spot in the NAIA national tournament, which has a 32-team field.

“We have some other goals here,” Kaminsky said. “We know the only way we can reach those goals if we have to win our next three games to get to a national tournament. The past isn’t going to help us. … We certainly don’t.

DAC playoffs

Today’s schedule for the quarterfinals of the Dakota Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament:

-No. 8 Mayville State at No. 1 Black Hills State, 7:30 p.m.

-No. 5 Minot State at No. 4 Jamestown College, 7:30 p.m.

-No. 7 Dakota State at No. 2 Valley City State, 7:30 p.m.

-No. 6 South Dakota Mines at No. 3 Dickinson State, 7 p.m.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.