PORTLAND, Ore. – With the start of the regular season just one week away, Alaska Anchorage veterans Shelby Cloninger and Tara Thompson collected their first awards of the 2017-18 campaign Thursday, being named to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Preseason All-Conference Team.
The two Seawolves were among 15 players on the preseason squad, which featured Montana State Billings guard Alisha Breen as the GNAC Preseason Player of the Year.
Both Cloninger and Thompson played all 32 games on last year’s UAA team that went 30-2 overall and 20-0 in the GNAC, sweeping the league’s regular-season and tournament championships for the third year in a row.
A 6-0 senior forward, Cloninger was one of seven unanimous choices on the preseason squad, despite coming off the bench in every game as a junior. The Kamiah, Idaho, native and North Idaho College transfer averaged 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 17.5 minutes per contest, and helped propel the Seawolves to a victory in the 2017 GNAC Tournament title game with 12 points and seven rebounds against Western Washington.
A 5-7 junior guard, Thompson was UAA’s second-leading scorer a year ago with 8.9 points per game, along 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals per contest, while leading the GNAC and ranking sixth nationally with 43.6 percent three-point accuracy. The former Dimond High School star scored in double figures 13 times as a sophomore, including a career-high 17 points in the GNAC Tournament title game and 15 points in the Seawolves’ NCAA First Round win over Hawaii Pacific.
The Seawolves begin the season Nov. 2 in Charlotte, N.C., against NAIA foe Johnson & Wales, before facing NCAA Div. I power Duke in a Nov. 5 exhibition game in Durham, N.C.
2017-18 GNAC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Name, School, Pos., Ht., Yr., Hometown
*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-Portland, G, 5-9, Sr., Beaverton, Ore. (Colorado Mesa)
Hannah Stipanovich, Western Washington, F/C, 6-1, Sr., St. Louis, Mo. (Metro State)
*Shelby Cloninger, Alaska Anchorage, F, 6-0, Sr., Kamiah, Idaho (North Idaho JC)
*Taylor Baird, Central Washington, F, 6-2, Sr., Snohomish, Wash. (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-Portland, F, 6-1, Jr., Pasco, Wash. (Chiawana)