RENO, Nev. (March 5, 2017) – The Big Sky Conference has had many back-to-back regular season champions in women’s basketball, but perhaps none has traveled the journey of the Montana State Bobcats.
Montana State started off the season as a highly-ranked squad, had a bumpy preseason, and couldn’t break through to the top of the league standings until the final weekend. The journey of the Bobcats has been one of redemption, as they’ve tried to overcome what was a tough exit from the 2016 Big Sky Women’s Basketball Championship.
The redemption continued Friday when the Bobcats clinched the 2017 tournament’s top seed, and carried on Sunday, as Montana State was honored with two all-conference honors, including earning the league’s Most Valuable Player award for the second consecutive season.
Montana State guard Peyton Ferris is a Treasure State native who was highly recruited by the Bobcats and the Montana Lady Griz. A consistent threat for the Bobcats, Ferris earned the league’s Preseason MVP award under unusual circumstances. There was nothing unusual about the senior’s unanimous selection the Big Sky All-Conference first team, nor was there nothing unusual about her selection as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Ferris averaged 17.9 points per game, while also contributing 7.4 rebounds a game and a shooting percentage of 50.4 percent.
Northern Colorado had two players earn All-Big Sky honors, with Savannah Smith being named to the first team. Also, Savannah Scott earned second team honors. Both played an integral role in leading the Bears to a third seed in the upcoming Big Sky tourney.
Makailah Dyer helped lead the North Dakota Fighting Hawks to the second seed in Monday’s Big Sky Women’s Basketball Championship, and was rewarded for her efforts by being a unanimous selection to the first team. Dyer averaged 15.2 points a game for North Dakota, who will play in Reno on Wednesday. Dyer was joined by teammate Lexi Klabo, who earned second team honors.
A duo from the Northwest made the first team, as Eastern Washington forward Delaney Hodgins and Idaho guard Mikayla Ferenz were voted on the list. Hodgins led the Big Sky in scoring for much of the season, averaging 17.6 points a game for an Eagles team that earned a first-round bye. Ferenz burst on the #BigSkyWBB scene in 2016, earning tournament MVP honors in Reno, and followed up the success by scoring 17.6 points a game for an Idaho team that will open its tournament defense with a game against Southern Utah Monday.
The Big Sky had a strong year defensively, and two players from the state of Idaho were selected for their outstanding defensive play. Idaho’s Karlee Wilson shared the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award with Idaho State’s Freya Newton. The Bengals earned another individual honor, as Estefania Ors earned the league’s Outstanding Freshman award, after averaging 9.8 points a game.
Montana State, Northern Colorado, Portland State and Eastern Washington both placed multiple players on the all-conference teams, with the Bobcats and Eagles placing players on the second team. Riley Nordgaard represented Montana State on the second team, while Tisha Phillips did the same for Eastern Washington. Portland State’s Sidney Rielly made the third team.
Southern Utah’s Darri Frandsen earned the league’s Top Reserve award, after averaging 12.8 points a game for the Thunderbirds. The sophomore also averaged 8.1 rebounds a game.
Portland State earned a second team honors, as Ashley Bolston made the list. Bolston also earned the Top Newcomer award, after averaging 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds a game for the Vikings.
The Big Sky debuted a third team in the all-conference honors this season. Sacramento State’s Maranne Johnson made the list, after leading the country in three-point shots for much of the season. Also, Northern Arizona’s Olivia Lucero, Idaho State’s Saylair Grandon and Weber State’s Deeshyra Thomas rounded out the list.
Players receiving honorable mention honors included: Ashli Payne, Eastern Washington; Fallyn Freije, North Dakota; and Jessica Richardson, Southern Utah.
The Big Sky Coach of the Year award will be announced Tuesday morning.
#BigSkyWBB First Team
Peyton Ferris, Guard, Montana State, Senior
Makailah Dyer, Guard, North Dakota, Senior
Delaney Hodgins, Forward, Eastern Washington, Junior
Mikayla Ferenz, Guard, Idaho, Sophomore
Savannah Smith, Guard, Northern Colorado, Sophomore
#BigSkyWBB Second Team
Savannah Scott, Guard, Northern Colorado, Junior
Riley Nordgaard, Forward, Montana State, Senior
Lexi Klabo, Forward, North Dakota, Sophomore
Tisha Phillips, Guard, Eastern Washington, Senior
Ashley Bolston, Guard, Portland State, Sophomore
#BigSkyWBB Third Team
Maranne Johnson, Guard, Sacramento State, Junior
Olivia Lucero, Guard, Northern Arizona, Junior
Sidney Rielly, Guard, Portland State, Sophomore
Saylair Grandon, Guard, Idaho State, Sophomore
Deeshyra Thomas, Guard, Weber State, Senior
#BigSkyWBB Special Awards
Most Valuable Player: Peyton Ferris, Montana State
Top Newcomer: Ashley Bolston, Portland State
Outstanding Freshman: Estefania Ors, Idaho State
Defensive Player of the Year: Karlee Wilson (Idaho) and Freya Newton (Idaho State)
Top Reserve: Darri Frandsen, Southern Utah