The Roosevelt Rough Riders have played just six games as the month of January wraps up, but a pivotal stretch of basketball starts tonight. The Riders play crosstown rival Washington tonight, and then play No. 1 Rapid City Stevens on Saturday. Both contests are at home.

Roosevelt is 5-1 in their first six games. Their lone loss came on the road to No. 1 Rapid City Stevens. Their starting five features five seniors, Colton Kooima, Chris Phillips, Josh Kirkwold, Jason Spicer and Ryan Leslie.

"Our starting 5 is a great group of boys. They have all paid their dues and are all seniors," adds head coach Lee Taylor. "We also have a lot of guys off bench that can score the basketball for us and it has to be a good team effort. Cannot rely on our top three guys coming back from last year and they are starting to learn that. Our other guys are starting to step up and the big three we have are starting to trust their teammates as well."

The Riders have some big wins in their first six games, beating Tyler Nagy and the Brookings Bobcats on the road, and handing Flora McDonald of North Carolina a loss in the Mike Miller Classic. Taylor says Roosevelt is learning how to play together as a team.

"We are learning to play unselfish and that one good thing leads to another good thing. It's a process, as only 3 guys returned from last year. We are learning on the fly, but every game gets a little better. We are starting to clean things up and have a long ways to go, but we are headed in the right direction."

Kooima agrees with Taylor, and says when the Riders play as a team, they will be a tough to beat down the road.

"Keep playing as a team. We set individual goals aside and all we worry about is the team. Whoever gets the credit, its whatever. As long as we get our goals at the end of the day, that's all that matters."

As a team, their biggest challenge the rest of the season is putting together a complete game. Taylor wants his team to be consistent for multiples games down the stretch.

"Consistency overall for 32 minutes. Right now it's kind of a roller coaster. We are up and we are down. The key to any postseason run is you have to play consistently for five or six games in a row. If you can do that, you give yourselves a great chance to to win games because you are playing at a high level for longer stretches of time."

Roosevelt can begin this weekend by making a statement in Class AA if they beat  No. 1 Rapid City Stevens. Taylor knows it will be a test, and the Riders will have to be at the top of their game to stop one of the state's best basketball players, Steven Schaefer.

"They are (Stevens) a good team. We have to play really well, and they have a great player in Steven Schaefer. He stepped up big for them at their place, and we definately have to make every shot hard for him, but also got to control the game. Hopefully, here at home we can have a little more luck on our side than we did out there."