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Women with area ties earn all-conference recognition

Brianne Ryan of Eastern Washington and former Lake City standout Katie Baker highlight a long list of area players to receive women’s basketball honors Monday.

Ryan, a junior, and Baker, a sophomore at Montana, were both named to the Big Sky Conference first team.

Record-breaking rebounder Yinka Olurunnife of Idaho made the second team in the Western Athletic Conference, and in the Big West, UC Davis senior Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) made the second team.

Eryn Jones, a junior who led Portland State to the regular-season Big Sky championship, was voted most valuable player by the coaches. The six players on the first team, counting Jones, were from six different schools and none were seniors.

Ryan a 6-foot forward from Lynden, leads the Eagles in scoring (13.8) and shooting (47.2 percent), was second in steals (44) and assists (58) and third in rebounds (134).

Baker, who missed the second half of her freshman season with a knee injury and only missed one game this season after an appendectomy, leads the Grizzlies in scoring (12.1) and rebounding (7.8) in the regular season.

Last year’s MVP, Eastern’s Julie Piper, is honorable mention along with teammate Chene Cooper. Also on the list are PSU’s Kelli Valentine (Mead) and Montana State’s Lyndi Seidensticker (Lewis and Clark). All are seniors except Cooper, who is a junior.

Piper averages 10.4 points and leads the team in rebounds (7.3). Cooper is second on the team in scoring (11.4) and her 5.2 assists put her 25th in the country.

Valentine is second on her team in rebounding (5.9), third in scoring (10.8) and became the 10th Viking to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.

Seidensticker averages 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game and leads the Bobcats with 74 3-pointers. She was twice the league player of the week.

Eastern (12-17) and Montana State (18-13) square off in the Big Sky tournament in Portland at 4:35 p.m. on Thursday.

Adrienne Johnson of league champion Louisiana Tech, is the WAC player of the year.

Olorunnife, a senior who became Idaho’s and the WAC’s all-time leading rebounder, was also selected to the All-Defensive team. Also a second-team pick last year, she is averaging a double-double – 14.0 points, 10.3 boards.

The Vandals (14-14) face Boise State (12-18) in the WAC tournament in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Heintz, a senior, was a second-team selection in the Big West for the second straight year. She leads the Aggies in shooting (48.7 percent) and assists (80), is second in rebounding (4.8) and third in scoring (9.6). Combined with playing her first two years at San Francisco, Heintz is a career 1,000-point scorer.

UC Davis (21-8) is the fourth seed in the Big West tournament and is home tonight against UC Irvine (15-14).

The Colonial Athletic Association also named freshman Kate Loper (Post Falls) rookie of the week award for the eighth time after she scored a career-high 26 points in Hofstra’s last regular-season game. The Pride faces William & Mary in the league tournament on Thursday.