In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Emily Kuipers has grown.
Not taller – that 6-foot-5 player on the Regis University women’s basketball team is junior Salina Kuiper, who happens to be Kuipers’ roommate at the Division II school in Denver.
It could be said Kuiper, who is from the Netherlands, is the only thing overshadowing Kuipers as her career winds down.
“I love it,” the 6-foot senior from University High said. “I love Colorado. I love the big-city aspect. I love the mountains. I love the unpredictable weather. The people here are great. I do miss the water, though.”
Kuipers has had plenty of time to fall in love with her surroundings, because she redshirted her junior year after a preseason ACL injury. A positive is she already graduated and is doing postgraduate work before becoming an elementary school teacher.
“It’s definitely been a great experience, I haven’t regretted anything,” she said. “I’ve grown as a player and a person.”
She’s saved her best basketball for last.
She recently had a string of three straight double-doubles and earned Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Week. She is averaging 9.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game after averaging 9.3 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds last year.
“I started off not doing well this season, I couldn’t hit the basket,” she said. “Once I got back from Christmas, things have been going really well.”
In her first two seasons, the Rangers qualified for the NCAA tournament. That helped ease the transition to being so far from home. Now the team puts its games on the Internet.
“My parents have been able to watch me play,” she said. “Some games I don’t want them to see.
“I think this is where I’m supposed to be. I’ve made some really close friends … they’ll be friends for life. I love the small-school aspect. At times I wish I could go home when other people go home, but you deal with it and it’s the new norm for you.”
As for her roommate, she said, “We’ve become good friends. We haven’t checked to see if we’re related yet, but she has relatives named Kuipers with an ‘s.’ ”
Idaho lost another player when post Jessica Graham suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice last week. The short-handed Vandals, behind Rachele Kloke’s career-high 26 points, led Fresno State by 11 midway through the second half before being outscored 30-11 by the Bulldogs. Debbie Pedersen, a 6-3 all-league volleyball player from Grangeville, Idaho, is joining the Vandals. … Freshman Katie Baker (Lake City) is out for the season after suffering a knee injury late in Montana’s overtime loss at Eastern Washington on Friday night. Baker was leading the Grizzlies with 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) has been hot lately and the Tennessee junior is 91 points from the career 1,000-point club. She has 182 3-pointers, third on the Lady Volunteers’ career list. … With 37 points, Gonzaga senior Heather Bowman (Lewis and Clark) becomes the West Coast Conference’s all-time leading scorer. … Junior Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) scored 16 points as UC Davis (10-6) beat Cal Poly in a battle between the only two teams in the Big West Conference with winning records. … Junior Jenna Galloway (Ferris) had seven points and nine rebounds as Northern Arizona defeated Weber State and senior Tonya Schnibbe (U-Hi), who had 23 points and seven assists. … Portland State’s three starting guards hit just 3 of 22 shots in a 49-47 win over visiting Montana. Junior post Kelli Valentine (Mead) hit 4 of 6 shots for the Vikings to finish with 11 points and five steals, but she only played 23 minutes before fouling out. … Saint Martin’s has lost four straight games, but junior Dara Zack (U-Hi) had back-to-back 25-point games and then consecutive 20-point games. She is averaging 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Saints (6-7). … Idaho’s Charlotte Otero has 321 career assists, making her the active leader in the WAC, two ahead of Boise State’s Tasha Harris. … Utah State’s Alice Coddington nabbed a WAC-record 13 steals against Weber State last month … Stanford’s Jayne Appel is 18th on the Pac-10 career scoring list (1,819), seventh in rebounding (1,074) and third in blocked shots (241) … On Thursday, Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves celebrates his birthday.
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