The Lady Hawks, who ranked fourth in the WBCA Aca-demic Top 25 Honor Roll following the 2010-11 season, com-piled a 3.601 team grade point average this season to finish just under sixth hundredths of a point behind top-ranked Northwestern (Iowa), which boasted a national-best 3.657 team GPA.
The No. 2 final ranking marks the third straight top 10 fin-ish for Shorter’s women’s basketball program in the WBCA Academic Top 25 Honor Roll – prior to its fourth place finish in 2010-11, Shorter was ranked No. 9 in 2009-10.
“I am extremely proud of our team for their work in the classroom this past academic year,” said head coach Vic Mitchell. “Finishing second in the Honor Roll is the final ac-complishment of the 2011-12 team, and it is a tremendous ac-complishment when you consider the time and effort it takes to compete at a high level on the basketball court and main-tain such a high standard in the classroom.
“The nucleus of this past year’s team was together for four years and to have four straight 20-plus win seasons and three straight top 10 finishes in the Honor Roll is something each of our players should be proud of,” Mitchell added. “I also want to recognize the work my assistant coach, Joanna Reitz, does making sure our players are constantly reminded of keeping up with their work in the classroom. And lastly, I want to thank the faculty here at Shorter University for encouraging and working with our players during the season. They are a part of this recognition as well.”
Shorter had nine student-athletes honored as Academic All-Southern States Athletic Conference performers off a team that tied a school record with 28 wins, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship and ended the season ranked No. 19 in the fi-nal NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
Of those nine All-Academic selections, five – seniors Alli-son Danner, Kelly Ellison and Brittney Smith and juniors Chelsi Matthews and Aiste Pranciliauskaite – were tabbed NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Ellison picked up an additional honor last month, being named the SSAC’s Female Honor Student-Athlete for the second straight year. Ellison, the fourth straight Shorter stu-dent-athlete to earn the conference’s highest honor, is the first female student-athlete to win the award multiple times.
“There isn’t much I can say about Kelly that hasn’t already been said over the past three years,” said Mitchell. “She epitomizes the term student-athlete. Her accomplishments on the basketball court, in the community, and in the classroom are tremendous and have been recognized accordingly.
“I am most proud that none of these recognitions have changed who Kelly is as a person. She remains one of the most humble players I have ever coached and that’s a tre-mendous tribute to how grounded she is in her faith and is a tremendous tribute to her parents, Dale and Shari. I know they are proud of Kelly, and I am proud to have had the op-portunity to be her coach these past three years.”
The Shorter women’s basketball program continued its tradition of success on and off the court in 2011-12.
On the hardwood, the Lady Hawks secured a program re-cord fifth straight 20-win season and made a third straight trip to the national tournament. Shorter ended the year with a 28-7 overall record – the most wins since the 1978-79 Lady Hawks went 28-5 – and went 16-3 in the SSAC. The Lady Hawks won the program’s first-ever national tournament game by rallying from a 24-point first half deficit to stun 11th-ranked Olivet Nazarene 84-83 in the tournament’s first round.
Off the court, Lindsey Crawford, Abbie Daniel, Megan Queen and Emily Trew joined Danner, Ellison, Matthews, Pranciliauskaite and Smith on the SSAC All-Academic team. Crawford, Danner, Ellison and Smith were named to the Capital One Academic All-District team with Ellison going on to earn Capital One Academic All-America accolades.
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Asso-ciation promotes women’s basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game in all of its aspects as a sport for women and girls.
The WBCA Academic Top 25 annually recognizes NCAA Divisions I, II and III; NAIA; and junior college/community college teams across the nation that carry the highest com-bined grade point averages (GPAs) inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season. The 2010-11 season is the 14th in which the WBCA has presented the standings.