COLUMBIA — In her four-year career with Columbia College, senior guard Heather English earned American Midwest Conference Freshman of the Year honors and Player of the Year Honors. She was also named a Second- and Third-Team NAIA All-American.
The Cougars' versatile guard is in the top 10 of nearly every major statistical category in program history. Her career stats rank second in points, third in steals, and sixth in rebounds and assists. In her four years as a Cougar, English has had no shortage of individual awards or accolades. One of the few things that has eluded her, though, is a win in the national tournament.
NAIA Women's Basketball National Tournament
Columbia College vs. Montana State-Northern
When: 5:45 p.m., Wednesday
Where: The Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky.
On Wednesday at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky., English will get her final chance.
Since she's been with the Cougars, they've never made it past the first round, English said Monday. “I’m excited to go into it. I’m ready. I think we all are.”
No. 3 seed Columbia College is set to tip off its first-round game of the NAIA National Tournament at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday against No. 6 Montana State-Northern (21-9).
“It’s a fun time of the year,” Columbia College coach Mike Davis said. “I think the fun part of it is that this time of the year, there’s not a second chance, a do-over. You can’t buy any mulligans in this game.”
Columbia enters the contest with a record of 26-7 and winners of 14 of its last 16 games behind its two leading scorers Janairrika Bland (15.7 points per game) and English (14 points per game). Davis credited English — who is also averaging 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game — and her improved play-making ability as a major reason for the Cougars' success in the second half of the season.
“She was averaging 20 points a ballgame earlier in the year,” Davis said. “But I think as she saw more weapons get healthy and more weapons got with us, she was able to not do as much scoring and help us be a better ballclub.”
English stood on the wooden floor of the Arena of Southwell Complex for the final time as a player Monday with hands on her hips. As she spoke with a handful of reporters, the conversation veered back to one stat in particular: wins.
“It'd be nice to go out with a bang,” English said. “A win. Making it far in the tournament, that’s what my goal is.”
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.