Kellie Cole Rubel Named Big Sky Conference CO-MVP

Montana senior guard Kellie Rubel, who led the Lady Griz to the regular-season championship, was named the Big Sky Conference co-MVP Tuesday. She was also named first-team All-Big Sky for the second straight year. She was the only unanimous selection on the six-player first team.

Senior center Carly Selvig repeated as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, and seniors Maggie Rickman, junior McCalle Feller and sophomore Kayleigh Valley were all named honorable mention.

Rubel, who leads Montana in scoring (14.0/g) and assists (124), and ranks third in rebounding (5.3/g), becomes Montana’s 14th conference MVP.

“There are not too many players who do what Kellie does,” said Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig. “She defends, she scores, she handles, she passes, she leads. I don’t know what else a player can do.”

Kellie Rubel

Kellie ColeRubel

It was clear the MVP award was going to come down to Rubel and Northern Colorado senior D’shara Strange.

Rubel is the best player on the league’s best team. Strange is the conference’s most dynamic athlete, ranks in the top five in the Big Sky in both scoring and rebounding and led the Bears on a late-season surge that has them entering this week’s eight-team tournament as the No. 3 seed.

In the end, the coaches split their votes. Six likely voted for Rubel, six for Strange, so the two players shared the award.

“When you do what Kellie does and your team wins the league, you should definitely be MVP,” said Selvig. “The most important stat to measure a player’s value is that the team wins. That’s always been my view.”

The only surprise of the first team was that Strange, who becomes a three-time first-team selection, was somehow not a unanimous vote.

Rubel and Strange were joined on the first team by Sacramento State senior guard Fantasia Hilliard, Northern Colorado senior center Stephanie Lee, Eastern Washington junior guard Hayley Hodgins and North Dakota junior forward Mia Loyd.

Making up the five-player second team were Eastern Washington seniors Lexie Nelson and Melissa Williams, Northern Arizona senior Erikka Banks, Idaho senior Stacey Barr and Montana State junior Jasmine Hommes.

Barr will be the only first- or second-team selection not playing in this week’s Big Sky tournament, which opens Wednesday with four quarterfinal games.

Selvig was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Montana players have won the award six times. Selvig joins Hollie Tyler (2002-03 and 2003-04) as Lady Griz who have won the award in back-to-back seasons.

Selvig was an easy decision for the award. She anchors a defense that ranks third nationally in field goal percentage defense (.336) and ninth in blocks (6.3/g), and leads the Big Sky in scoring defense (56.9/g).

She leads the Big Sky in blocks (2.7/g), and her 252 career rejections rank third in league history.

Carly Selvig

CarlySelvig

That Selvig was lying on Dahlberg Arena’s floor last March with a torn ACL, yet still managed to return to the team in late November, did not factor into the voting, but the comeback story is not lost on her uncle.

“Coming back off the knee injury as early as she did was a heck of a thing. She worked really hard to do that,” Selvig said.

“Our biggest strength is probably the defensive end, and she’s our leader there. She enables us to do a lot of different things. So this is a really nice award for her. I’m glad she got it.”

Rickman, Feller and Valley all made honorable mention, meaning each of them received at least one vote for second-team honors. All three had big games this season, but it’s likely all three split the votes that would have given Montana at least one second-team selection.

“I was hoping we’d sneak one on the second team, but if you vote for two Montana kids, would it be Kellie and McCalle, or Kellie and Kayleigh, or Kellie and Maggie? They all had big games against different teams, so coaches probably voted differently,” said Selvig.

Rickman, at 9.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, is enjoying the best season of her career, while Feller (11.5/g) and Valley (11.4/g), along with Rubel, give the Lady Griz three players averaging in double figures.

Idaho State junior Apiphany Woods was named the Big Sky’s Top Newcomer, Eastern Washington’s Delaney Hodgins the Outstanding Freshman.

Idaho State’s Megan Hochstein, Sacramento State’s Gretchen Harrigan and Montana State’s Peyton Ferris shared Top Reserve honors.

2014-15 All-Big Sky Conference

 

First Team:

Player, School (Year, position, hometown)

Kellie Rubel, Montana #* (Sr., guard, Bozeman, Mont.)

Hayley Hodgins, Eastern Washinton (Jr., guard, Pasco, Wash.)

D’shara Strange, Northern Colorado @ (Sr., forward, Fountain, Colo.)

Fantasia Hilliard, Sacramento State (Sr., guard, Sacramento, Calif.)

Mia Loyd, North Dakota (Jr., forward, Minneapolis, Minn.)

Stephanie Lee, Northern Colorado (Sr., center, Casper, Wyo.)

# Unanimous selection

@ Three-time first-team selection

* Two-time first-team selection

 

Second Team:

Stacey Barr, Idaho (Sr., guard, Melbourne, Australia)

Jasmine Hommes, Montana State (Jr., forward, Lynden, Wash.)

Erikka Banks, Northern Arizona (Sr., forward, Fresno, Calif.)

Lexie Nelson, Eastern Washington (Sr., guard, Butte, Mont.)

Melissa Williams, Eastern Washington (Sr., forward, Camas, Wash.)

 

Honorable Mention:

McCalle Feller, Montana; Apiphany Woods, Idaho State; Gretchen Harrigan, Sacramento State; Jade Redmon, Eastern Washington; Kayleigh Valley, Montana; Maggie Rickman, Montana; Emily Evers, North Dakota; Desiree Jackson, Southern Utah; Raven Anderson, Northern Arizona; Emily Easom, Portland State
Co-Most Valuable Player: Kellie Rubel, Montana; D’shara Strange, Northern Colorado

Defensive Player of the Year: Carly Selvig, Montana

Top Newcomer: Apiphany Woods, Idaho State

Outstanding Freshman: Delaney Hodgins, Eastern Washington

Top Reserve: Megan Hochstein, Idaho State; Gretchen Harrigan, Sacramento State; Peyton Ferris, Montana State

 

Montana Sports Information