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2014 Frontier Basketball Preview: Posts

The bigs still rule the paint in Frontier women's hoops

 

December 27, 2013

Daniel Horton

Montana State University-Northern's A'Jha Edwards, left, has instantly become one of the top post players in Frontier Conference.

For the last decade, maybe even more, Frontier Conference women’s basketball has been known for having some of the top post players in all of NAIA basketball. The league has been dominated by bigs, and team’s who have them usually contend for conference championships.

The 2013-14 season should be no different. There are a handful of high-caliber post players in the conference this season, and if you like watching the inside game, then the Frontier is for you.

The Montana State University-Northern Skylights have one of those players in 6-5 junior A’Jha Edwards, a transfer from Pima Community College in Arizona. It’s been some time since Northern has had a player of Edwards’ stature on the inside, and she’s had an immediate impact, as the Skylights are off to a 12-0 start.

Edwards is averaging a double-double in her first season at MSU-N. She scored 11 points and grabs 10 rebounds per night, but her size and athleticism is also a game-changer for other reasons. She’s a true difference make on the defensive end, but as the season goes on, she’ll also command even more attention from opposing defenses in the paint, and that will create space and wide open looks for the rest of Northern’s talented lineup.

Here’s a look at the top post players from the rest of the Frontier Conference

When looking for a great post player, look no further than Dillon. The UM-Western Bulldogs have had some great bigs over the years, but 5-10 junior Sammi Bignell might be one of the most talented of them all. Not a true center, Bignell is more of a swingman. But her post-up abilities are still as good as there is in the league, and so his her rebounding and defensive skills.

However, what Bignell does best is score the basketball. She’s averaged 18 points per game over the last two seasons, and that’s led to being a two-time All-Conference performer. So far this season, Bignell is averaging 19 points and eight rebounds per game, while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor, and better than 39 percent from three. Bignell is also undoubtedly the toughest player in the Frontier to defend, and that makes her the leading candidate for Frontier Player of the Year honors.

Montana Tech’s Kelsey DeWit has been dominating the paint for what seems like forever. Already a three-time All-Conference standout, the 6-2 DeWit is a true center, but with a twist. DeWit is an excellent 3-point shooter, and that, coupled with her inside scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking abilities, makes her one of the most complete posts in the league. This season, DeWit is averaging 15 points and eight rebounds per outing.

Another school which has had dominate posts over the years is Lewis-Clark State. And while the Warriors are used to having great centers, they are also used to having tall swing forwards, and they have one this season in junior Tanis Fuller. The 5-10 standout is a returning All-Conference performer, who’s averaging 14 points and shooting nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc.

The Great Falls Argos are certainly a team on the rise, and 6-2 junior center Lindsey Abramson is a very big reason why. Abramson has been the perfect compliment to guard Erin Legel, giving UGF perhaps the top 1-2 punch in the Frontier. This season, Abramson is averaging big numbers, including 17 points per game, while grabbing a league-high 13 rebounds per night. Her defense is also game-changing, and that’s why the Argos are a very dangerous team this season.

Westminster is always a dangerous team, having won the last five Frontier regular season titles. And the Griffins have a pair of top post players again. Shelby Ellsworth (5-11) and Alli Blake (5-11) are both dynamic scorers, she can run the floor, shoot the three and post up if needed. In the Griffins’ fast-paced offense, both players can wreak havoc, and together they’re averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds per night.

Note: For full Frontier Conference men's and women's capsules, see next week's Havre Daily News.

 

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