MSUB's Breen Leads Senior-Heavy Preseason All-GNAC Team
Breen is one of seven players who were unanimous selections for Preseason All-GNAC honors. The forward led the Yellowjackets to a 21-11 record in 2015-16 with a league-high 17.4 points per game.
Breen is one of seven players who were unanimous selections for Preseason All-GNAC honors. The forward led the Yellowjackets to a 21-11 record in 2015-16 with a league-high 17.4 points per game.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore.  – A year off of the hardwood did little to diminish Alisha Breen’s value to Montana State Billings as the senior forward leads the 2017-18 Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team.

Breen, selected as the Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, missed all of the 2016-17 campaign due to a knee injury suffered during the preseason. Despite her absence, Breen received seven first-place votes from conference coaches.

Joining Breen in that group are Central Washington guard Jasmin Edwards, Seattle Pacific guard Jordan McPhee, Northwest Nazarene forward Lexi Tubbs, Concordia guard Danielle Hartzog, Alaska Anchorage forward Shelby Cloninger and Central Washington forward Taylor Baird.

Breen, a First Team All-GNAC selection in 2015-16, led Montana State Billings to the Division II West Region Championships two years ago. During her junior year, Breen averaged 17.4 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. Her presence on the wing was missed last season, as MSUB won just eight games after going 21-11 in 2015-16.

Edwards returns along with three other starters for the Wildcats. Her team-high 10.5 points per game and 5.4 assists per game earned her Second Team All-GNAC consideration last season and led CWU to the semifinals in the GNAC Championships. The senior also finished second in the GNAC with 156 assists. She was an instrumental part of the Wildcats’ offense, leading the league with 1,078 minutes played. Edwards led the Wildcats to six wins in their final seven conference games and receives preseason honors for her third year in a row.

McPhee started every game at guard for Seattle Pacific last year and was second on the team with 11.2 points per game. McPhee’s 5.2 rebounds per game, which was second on the Falcons, led her to Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors. McPhee led SPU with 15 points in its GNAC Championships quarterfinal win against Northwest Nazarene and totaled a team-high 11 points in the semifinals loss versus Alaska Anchorage.

The Falcons’ Courtney Hollander made the Preseason All-Conference Team after turning in another year of solid scoring output. For the past two seasons, Hollander has led Seattle Pacific in points, averaging 11.8 per game last season. The guard was named a Second Team All-GNAC selection a season ago and returns with three other starting seniors to round out the Falcons’ experienced first five. Pulling down a team-high seven rebounds per game, Hollander’s presence catapulted SPU to a 12-0 start last year as she led the team in rebounds in seven of those contests.

In a year that sees a handful of transfers arrive for defending GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage, Tara Thompson is the sole returning Seawolves’ starter for 2017-18. Thompson was a part of an Anchorage team that led the GNAC in scoring margin, rebounding margin, assists, steals and turnover margin. The junior guard started all 32 games, recording 8.9 points per game and shooting 43.6 percent from three-point land (ranked first in GNAC). Joining Thompson on the preseason all-conference list is senior forward Cloninger. Off the bench, Cloninger averaged 8.3 points per game and provided a heavy interior presence with four rebounds per game.

Rounding out Central Washington’s selections is Baird. The senior, who averaged 12.8 points per game last season, appeared in all 32 games off the bench. She was tied for third on the team with 115 rebounds and will look to improve on her previous campaign under new Wildcats’ head coach Randi Richardson-Thornley.

Concordia and Western Washington each had two selections. The Vikings’ third-place finish sees Hanna Stipanovich and Lexie Bland listed as preseason favorites coming into the season. Stipanovich, the lone returning Vikings’ starter, finished last season with 5.6 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game at center. She led WWU shooting 89.2 percent from the free throw line. In 26 contests off the bench as a freshman, Bland pumped in 3.4 points per game in 17.1 minutes a game.

Earning Honorable Mention All-GNAC accolades in 2016-17, Hartzog led Concordia and ranked 14th in the GNAC with 11.9 points per game. She also led the team with 55 steals as the Cavs narrowly missed the GNAC Championships with a tie for sixth place. Bailey Cartwright is the other Cavalier to receive Preseason All-Conference honors. The forward commanded the paint, averaging 8.6 points per game and ranking fourth in the GNAC with seven rebounds per game. She finished second in the league with 1.5 blocks per game.

Tubbs represents the lone Northwest Nazarene player to be named to the squad. Her 10.2 points per game awarded her 2016-17 Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors as she led a Nighthawks team that finished tied for fourth and appeared in the GNAC Championships’ quarterfinal game. Tubbs is one of seven players to be unanimously selected to the preseason all-conference team. She ranked ninth in the GNAC with four defensive rebounds per game. 

Montana State Billings’ guard Rylee Kane joins Breen as the MSUB representatives. She ended the year as an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection after finishing second for the Yellowjackets with 11.4 points per game. Kane returns with four MSUB starters to improve on its ninth-place GNAC finish.

Rounding out the voting is Saint Martin’s forward Elin Johansson and Western Oregon guard Sydney Azorr. Johansson, an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection last season, averaged a team-high 13.9 points per game to rank ninth in the GNAC. Azorr was second on the Wolves with 10 points per game and a .381 field goal percentage. She leads a team that returns all five starters under head fifth-year head coach Holli Howard-Carpenter.

Alaska Anchorage opens the 2017-18 for GNAC teams on Thurs., Nov. 2, when they take on Johnson & Wales (N.C.) in Charlotte, N.C., before engaging Duke in an exhibition game on Sun., Nov. 5, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The conference’s remaining teams open play on the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11.

Alisha Breen, Montana State Billings

Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
* Alisha Breen Montana State Billings F 5-10 Sr. Choteau, Mont. (Choteau)
* Jasmin Edwards Central Washington G 5-5 Sr. Lynnwood, Wash. (Lynnwood)
* Jordan McPhee Seattle Pacific G 5-10 Sr. Normandy Park, Wash. (Mount Rainier)
Courtney Hollander Seattle Pacific G 6-0 Sr. Lynden, Wash. (Lynden Christian)
Tara Thompson Alaska Anchorage G 5-7 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska (Dimond)
* Lexi Tubbs Northwest Nazarene G 5-11 Sr. Turlock, Calif. (Modesto Christian)
* Danielle Hartzog Concordia G 5-9 Sr. Beaverton, Ore. (Colorado Mesa Univ.)
Hannah Stipanovich Western Washington F/C 6-1 Sr. St. Louis, Mo. (Metro State Univ.)
* Shelby Cloninger Alaska Anchorage F 6-0 Sr. Kamiah, Idaho (North Idaho JC)
* Taylor Baird Central Washington F 6-2 Sr. Snohomish, Wash. (Univ, of Southern Utah)
Elin Johansson Saint Martin's F 6-1 Sr. Gothenburg, Sweden (Sanda Gymnasium)
Sydney Azorr Western Oregon G 5-10 Sr. Clackamas, Ore. (Clackamas)
Rylee Kane Montana State Billings G 5-6 Sr. Red Lodge, Mont. (Red Lodge)
Lexie Bland Western Washington G 5-6 So. Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg)
Bailey Cartwright Concordia F 6-1 Jr. Pasco, Wash. (Chiawana)

* - indicates unanimous selection