By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The season may have ended for the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team, but another season - recruiting season - is still going strong.
Skylights head coach Mike Erickson has announced the signing of three Montana high school standouts to NAIA National Letters of Intent to play basketball at Northern for the 2003-04 season.
Big Sandy standout Sheena Darlington will stay in the area and play with the Skylights. Darlington, a 5-9 post player, was the one of the most dominant players in Class C this season. Darlington averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists per game this season while leading the Pioneers to District 9C and Northern C Divisional titles and a third-place finish at the Class C state tournament.
"As a freshman, I didn't know if she would make it to this point because she was so stubborn," said Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner. "But she really has come a long way. This season she was so coachable and did whatever we asked her to do. She's a great kid and has been a pleasure to coach."
Darlington is a two-time all-conference player and earned all-state honors this year while also being named to the State Class C all-tournament team, but Lackner pointed out that her accolades were well earned.
"She's a great player not because she's the greatest athlete," Lacker said. "She worked hard enough to make herself a great player. If (Erickson) wanted a player with heart, he sure got it."
At 5-9, Darlington is a bit undersized to play post in the Frontier. Lackner expects her to move outside in college, but he believes she can still be effective inside as well.
"She'll probably have to move outside to be successful in their system," Lackner said. "I think she can do it. It will take some work. But, I think she could play in the post too. She's so quick and has good moves. She proved she can score over bigger players all year."
One of Darlington's opponents at the Northern C will become her teammate next season. Laura Keaster, a 5-8 guard/forward from Belt, has also signed to play with Northern.
Keaster averaged 16 points, six rebounds and four assists per game this season in helping the Huskies to a berth in the Class C state tournament.
Keaster is a three-time all-conference player and a two-time all-state player in basketball. Besides her success on the court, she is also a standout in the classroom. She holds a 3.74 grade point average and earned academic all-state honors all four years in high school.
Joining Darlington and Keaster is Eureka's Katrina Ferris. A 6-1 forward/center, Ferris dominated during her senior year averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists a game for the Lions.
She is a four-time all-conference performer and earned all-state honors three times as well as being named her team's most valuable player twice.
Ferris is also a solid student, carrying a 3.5 GPA.
Darlington, Keaster and Ferris join Jessi Reome of Lakeside High School (Nine Mile Falls, Wash.), Heather Riener of Superior, Ashley Trulock of Troy and Kim Tanascu of Gardiner in next year's recruiting class.