Rio’s Holden named RSC Player of the Year


MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – University of Rio Grande senior Sydney Holden has been named the 2019-20 River States Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

Holden’s award – and the naming of the all-conference teams and remaining individual honors – were announced Monday by league officials. The selections were made through nominations and voting of the 12 RSC head coaches.

Holden, a 5-foot-9 native of Wheelersburg, Ohio, was the top vote-getter in the balloting. She averaged 15.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, leading the RedStorm in all four categories.

Holden, who ranks third nationally in assists per game and second in total assists (201), was very efficient offensively shooting 50 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc and 83 percent at the foul line.

Holden is also responsible for four of the five “triple-double” performances in program history – three of which came this season.

She earned three River States Conference Player of the Week awards this season and was also named NAIA National Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 27, 2020.

Rio Grande was also represented on the all-conference second team by redshirt freshman forward Lexi Woods (Waverly, OH), who averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

Woods also ranked second in the league in overall field goal percentage (53.1%) and was ninth in free throw percentage (79.7%).

WVU Tech head coach Anna Kowalska was named RSC Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, earning the honor in each of first two seasons as head coach of the Golden Bears.

Kowalska led Tech to the RSC regular season championship at 24-7 overall and 16-0 in the RSC. The Golden Bears are ranked No. 23 in NAIA Division II Top 25 and will be playing in the national championship tournament.

Asbury (Ky.) University freshman forward Zaria Napier was chosen as the RSC Women’s Basketball Newcomer of the Year. She was the top vote-getter among players new to the conference this year.

Napier, a 5-11 native from Stanford, Ky., earned a spot on the All-RSC First Team leading Asbury with 15.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

WVU Tech guard Brittney Justice was second in the Player of the Year race after averaging 17.1 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the field with 50 made 3-pointers. Carlow (Pa.) University senior forward Emma Stille was also high in the voting, averaging 13.1 points and a league-high 15.5 rebounds per game. Ohio Christian University guard Staci Pertuset is leading the conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game along with 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

Also named to the All-RSC First Team were IU Kokomo forward Tia Chambers (15.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg), Midway (Ky.) University forward Jill Enix (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Alice Lloyd (Ky.) College guard Haley Hall (17.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), IU East guard Kamiylah Bomar (14.1 ppg), IU Southeast forward Hannah Coleman (11.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Point Park (Pa.) University guard Michelle Burns (15.8 ppg, 4.2 apg).

The All-RSC Second Team had two players from IU East to lead the conference with the other seven selections from seven different schools.

Also named was the RSC Women’s Basketball Champions of Character Team. The team recognizes those nominated by their head coach who best exhibit the five character values of NAIA Champions of Character, which are respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Rio Grande’s representative on the list was sophomore center Avery Harper (Seaman, OH).