HELENA — Carroll senior Danielle Wagner was named to the 2021 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA Coaches’ All-America Team on Monday. Fellow senior Christine Denny also earned Honorable Mention status, while Providence’s Emilee Maldonado joined Wagner on the first-team.
“That’s a very prestigious one,” Saints head coach Rachelle Sayers said of the honor. “Typically when we’re at our national tournament, they introduce those First-Team All-Americans. Unfortunately Dani didn’t get to enjoy that, but it’s really exciting. It’s an honor that both of them were recognized by the WBCA, it means a lot to our program from a national standpoint. Obviously we’re hoping they get the same type of recognition when the NAIA All-Americans come out.”
The NAIA women’s basketball season ends with the national championship on Tuesday night and the association’s All-America selections are expected to follow on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Wagner becomes the first Saint under Sayers to receive first-team honors from the WBCA and joins nine other players from around the country on the team that was voted on by a committee of WBCA member coaches.
Both Wagner and Denny also garnered First-Team All-Conference honors from the Frontier Conference earlier this year, while Maldonado was named the league’s Player-of-the-Year.
Maldonado averaged 16.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Argonauts, leading them to a berth in the opening site round of the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Wagner and Denny represented two of Carroll’s top-three scorers this season, helping the Saints finish 21-3 and with both a Frontier Regular Season Championship and Tournament Championship. Wagner averaged 15 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting, including a 44 percent effort from 3-point range.
Denny amassed 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Saints while adding 46 assists and 29 steals.
While the Saints’ play on the court was good enough to get them into the national tournament’s first round as a No. 1 seed, the players’ work in the classroom was equally as impressive. Nine Carroll women’s basketball players were announced as academic All-Conference picks by the Frontier last week as part of a larger 53-player group spanning the entire league.
Wagner, Denny, Maddie Geritz, Rakiah Grende, Kamden Hilborn, Molly McDermott, Erica Nessan, Kyle Olson and Jamie Pickens all maintained a GPA of at least 3.2 and were classified as sophomores or higher academically.
“Especially this year when you’re trying to do Biology labs and things like that online and going through the year that these guys have had; it just says so much about their commitment to success in all areas of their experience here at Carroll,” Sayers said. “We take great pride in being the best that we can be and academics here are extremely hard. So for nine of them to accomplish that, as well as having had success on the court, is really special and I’m extremely proud of them.”
Montana Tech led the conference with 12 players earning the honor, while Providence saw nine student-athletes honored. Rocky Mountain College had six academic All-Conference selections, while Montana Western and Montana State-Northern had 11 and six, respectively.