For the first time in Crowder head coach Tina Wilson’s tenure as women’s basketball coach, her entire sophomore class has signed with four-year schools to continue their academic and athletic careers. That’s what she said as the five signees were recognized Tuesday at the Wright Conference Center inside the Arnold Farber building on the Crowder campus.
Four of the five student-athletes signed with NCAA Division II schools and the fifth signed with a NAIA school — guard Michaela Mack to Newman, forward Zahria White to Southwest Baptist, guard Tori Coulter to Northwestern Oklahoma, and guard Morgan Crawford to Oklahoma Baptist, and guard Coley Ickes to Oklahoma Wesleyan.
This group excelled both on and off the court — accumulating a collective 3.55 GPA and leading Crowder to consecutive Region 16 championship games. The Lady Roughriders notched a 22-10 record this past season with the five sophomores right in the middle.
“From the start of their freshman year, all five desired to go on to play collegiately,” Wilson said. “All five did what they needed to do to reach that goal, putting in the extra work and not only on the basketball court, but academically. They’re all great students and whatever they do after they go on to a four-year, they’re going to succeed because they’re very driven and very motivated.”
During her sophomore season, Coulter averaged 8.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game and she shot 44.4 percent from the field, nearly 43 percent from 3-point range, and 69.2 percent at the line. Coulter made 87 field goals overall and 60 of them were from the 3-point line.
“Where do I start with Tori?” Wilson said. “She’s kinduva the clown of the group. We have a good time making fun of her a lot. She does a lot of hilarious things and she takes it all in stride. Obviously, on the basketball floor, she was instant offense for us. Comes in and can put up points quickly. That was her role for us.”
Northwestern Oklahoma, based in Alva, plays in the Great American Conference and the Lady Rangers finished last season 12-16 overall and 8-14 GAC under head coach Tasha Diesselhorst.
Northwestern Oklahoma plays alongside Southwestern Oklahoma, Arkansas Tech, Harding, Southeastern Oklahoma, Ouachita Baptist, East Central, Oklahoma Baptist, Southern Nazarene, Southern Arkansas, and Arkansas-Monticello.
Crawford averaged eight points, 2.7 rebounds, two steals, and 1.6 assists during her sophomore season and she helped Crowder become of NJCAA Division I’s leading free throw shooting (at least in overall makes and attempts, but not percentage) teams all season.
Crowder led the nation in free throw attempts (894) and finished third in makes (599), trailing only Shelton State (619) and Collin County (618).
“Morgan did a little bit of everything for us,” Wilson said. “She’s good defensively, had the ability to get to the basket, and she improved upon her shooting range this year.”
Oklahoma Baptist, based in Shawnee, finished 13-16 overall and 8-14 GAC (tied with Northwestern Oklahoma) last season under head coach Casi Bays.
Former Crowder player Kadesha Cooper played for Oklahoma Baptist last season and she averaged 6.4 points and 2.7 rebounds her junior season for the Lady Bison.
Former McDonald County High standout Ickes averaged 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists during her sophomore season, and Ickes demonstrated her importance by finishing behind only fellow guard Michaela Mack in minutes played.
“She’s one of those kids where her value doesn’t always show up on a stat sheet,” Wilson said. “She is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached and she played through a lot of pain the last two years. She’s getting ready to have compartment syndrome surgery. She tested positive for it, so that’s hampered her the last two years. I’m anxious to see how good she’ll be when she’s healthy. But again, she did a little bit of everything for us. She handled the ball when we needed her to, she could score, she could defend, and she was always on the floor for a loose ball and always taking charges.”
Medicinenet.com defines compartment syndrome as “a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells.”
Oklahoma Wesleyan, based in Bartlesville, finished 21-11 overall and 14-8 last season in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference under head coach Mark Molder.
Mack showcased a well-rounded game for the Lady ‘Riders her sophomore season with averages of 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. She played another role in Crowder being the nation’s leader in free throws attempted.
“Michaela was a good leader for us,” Wilson said. “She was one of those that didn’t care whether she scored or not. She just wanted to make sure that we won. She would do whatever it took for the team to win. I think she improved and stepped up her numbers offensively because we needed that.”
Newman, based in Wichita (Kansas), currently plays in the Heartland Conference and the Jets were 17-12 overall and 8-6 Heartland last season under head coach Darin Spence.
Newman, starting in 2019-20, will be competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association as an associate member. The MIAA includes schools like Pittsburg State, Missouri Southern, Emporia State, Washburn, and Central Missouri.
Neosho High senior Makayla Hayes also signed with Newman this spring. Hayes and Mack have already improved Newman’s team speed.
White averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds during her sophomore season and she proved efficient and effective shooting the basketball on the inside with 53.4 percent shooting overall from the field.
“Zahria led us in scoring and rebounding last two years,” Wilson said. “Even more than that, she was a great leader. She’s not extremely vocal, but I think her teammates draw confidence from her and her personality. I think, if she were a little bit taller, we would probably have never got her at Crowder. She’s undersized at 5-10, but has amazing footwork which enables her to score at will inside.”
Southwest Baptist, based in Bolivar, finished 15-14 overall and 7-12 MIAA last season under head coach Kelsey Keizer, and the Lady Bearcats split their games against Missouri Southern (79-75 win) and Pittsburg State (90-80 loss).