By Ryan Divish
Montana State University-Northern women's basketball coach Mike Erickson isn't letting something like the basketball season slow him down. Besides the extensive amount of time he's spending with his team, Erickson is also spending a sizable amount of time and effort on the phone and on the road recruiting. And all that time has paid off.
Erickson has signed a trio of players to NAIA national letters of intent to play basketball for the Skylights next season.
The three signees include two from Montana high schools and are all 5-10 or taller. But besides their size, the recruits also possess the athleticism that Erickson is looking for to play his up-tempo, full-court style.
"To get girls with that kind of size and athletic ability is exciting to see," Erickson said.
Ashley Trulock, the biggest player of the four and perhaps the tallest player to ever don a Skylights uniform, will bring some much needed size to a Northern teams whose tallest player is only 5-11.
Trulock, a 6-4 center from Troy, is averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds and two assists a game this year for the Trojans.
"Ashley brings great size," Erickson said. "It's been a long time since Northern has had somebody that size in the program. She might be one of the tallest players ever. She has a great frame and will be able to get up and down the floor."
Trulock is a 2003 McDonald's All-American nominee and earned all-state honors in basketball and volleyball for the past two years. More importantly for Erickson and Northern, Trulock was heavily recruited by most of the teams in the Frontier Conference including league power UM-Western, but chose the Skylights.
"Every team in the conference wanted her," Erickson said. "Even Gonzaga took a look at her. It's a big signing. She is one of the most talented and most mobile post players in Montana. It's important that we sign these caliber of girls."
Erickson also picked up another solid player from Western Montana in Superior's Heather Riener.
Riener, a 5-11 wing player, is averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists per game for the Bobcats, who are 5-5 on the season.
Riener's talents extend farther than the basketball court. She earned all-state honors in volleyball this year while placing fourth at last year's Class B state golf tournament. She has also been named valedictorian of her class.
"Heather is just a sparkplug," Erickson said. "She is all over the place. Defensively, she's going to work great in our defense. She can also shoot the outside shot and take people off the dribble."
Besides intensity, Riener brings versatility when she's on the floor. She can play four positions on the floor and can defend both guards and posts.
Like Riener, Jessi Reome brings outstanding size and versatility to the Skylight program.
Reome, a 5-10 guard/forward from Lakeside High School in Nine Mile Falls, Wash., averaged 10 points and four assists as a junior for Lakeside.
"Jessi is reliable three-point shooter," Erickson said. "But she can also post up smaller guards and is strong enough to defend post players."
Reome, a 3.0 student, also brings with her the experience of playing for and winning countless big games in her high school career.
"She brings a winning attitude," Erickson said. "She comes from a program that has won an unbelievable amount of championships. And she's been a part of a championship every year in high school."
Indeed, Reome has been a part of three league championships, three district championships and the 2001 Washington Class 2A championship on the basketball court. She also was a part of three consecutive 2A state volleyball championships where she was the team's setter.
Erickson is by no means finished recruiting for the season. He said he still actively recruiting for next season.