Eastern Idaho’s No. 1 source for prep sports

Luke, Wilson commit to Big Bend women’s basketball

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Eastern Idaho will continue to be well represented in Big Bend Community College athletics next year.

Madison County, in particular.

Sugar-Salem’s Kayla Luke and Madison’s Hannah Wilson both committed to the Vikings women’s basketball program this week. Luke gave her commitment Sunday while Wilson committed Wednesday.

When reached Thursday by phone, both expressed similar reasons for choosing to continue their careers at the Northwest Athletic Conference school in Moses Lake, Wash. Treasure Valley Community College and Walla Walla Community College — also NWAC schools — recruited them, but Big Bend “felt like home” when they made their official visits.

“I got to meet pretty much all of the girls and all three of the coaches,” Wilson said. “It was kinda like the Rexburg environment. They were all so nice and welcoming.”

Luke and Wilson will join fellow local athlete Leah Dougherty in Moses Lake. Dougherty is a 2017 Madison graduate and currently one of two eastern Idahoans on the Vikings’ roster, the other being 2016 Soda Springs graduate Callie Gronning.

“It’s nine hours away — that’s pretty far away — and it’s nice that we’ll know somebody there,” Luke said.

The program’s success also proved to be a determining factor in their decisions. The Vikings, currently 22-9, are on quite a tear. Once in eighth place in the NWAC East Region standings, the Vikings went 5-2 in February and ended the month with a win over Yakima Valley to snag their first NWAC Tournament berth in 16 years. They have since then defeated West Region No. 1 seed Grays Harbor and North No. 2 seed Everett to advance to this weekend’s NWAC Tournament Final Four and will play East No. 1 seed Walla Walla Saturday.

“Coach (Preston) Wilks has been able to build the program the last couple of years,” Wilson said. “I’m excited to be able to contribute to a team that has been doing well.”

Luke, recently named the 3A Mountain Rivers Conference Player of the Year, ended her senior season averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game while shooting 44.2 percent from field goal range and 33.7 percent from 3 for the 3A state champion Diggers. She said the Vikings graduate their starting point guard, and they are expecting her to fulfill that role upon her arrival at Big Bend.

“They really want me to step in and be a leader, run the plays and be a good leader on the court,” Luke said.

Wilson, a post who was named the 5A/4A High Country Conference Player of the Year, ended her senior season averaging 11.8 points and seven rebounds per game for the Bobcats. The Vikings coaches also shared what their expectations were for her next season.

“They talked about how they want to use me probably more down low and use my strength and rebounding and stuff,” Wilson said.

Both seniors also played volleyball in high school, but said they knew they wanted to focus on basketball upon pursuing college sports. While Wilson is the second women’s basketball recruit from Madison in as many seasons, Luke is the first in Crystal Dayley’s six years as head coach of her alma mater.

“I couldn’t do it without her,” Luke said of Dayley. “I just feel super blessed.”

Wilson also expressed gratitude for the encouragement and guidance she received as an athlete, and as a person, while at Madison.

“It’s been nice to have coaches that know what they’re doing and help me build my confidence not also on but off the court,” Wilson said. “I’m excited and grateful they were able to teach me all those little things that will help me in life.”

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