Johnson headlines Tigers’ All-GPAC selections

Kim Johnson from DWU.

Kim Johnson

Elizabeth Lamb from DWU.

Elizabeth Lamb

Celeste Beck from DWU.

Celeste Beck

Amanda Hart from DWU.

Amanda Hart

MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team put together its best season in nearly a decade in 2012-13, and that didn’t go unnoticed by coaches around the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

The Tigers went 20-11, marking the fourth 20-win season in DWU women’s basketball history. It was the first time since 2003-04 the Tigers have won 20 games, and also the first time since that same season Dakota Wesleyan was ranked in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. It seems fitting, then, that – for the first time since 2003-04 – the Tigers have a player on the All-GPAC First Team.

Kim Johnson headlines the Tigers’ All-GPAC selections this year, becoming the first Tiger women’s basketball player to earn a spot on the first time since Randi Morgan and Victoria Drefs in 2004. Amanda Hart earned All-GPAC Second Team honors and Celeste Beck and Elizabeth Lamb earned honorable mention accolades. This is the first time since the 2009 season the Tigers have had more than two All-GPAC honorees.

This is the first All-GPAC honor for Johnson, a junior forward from Sioux Falls, S.D. The Roosevelt High School graduate had a breakout year for the Tigers, and led the team and the league in scoring at 18.5 points per game. She also finished second in the league in field-goal percentage (.527) and 12th in rebounds per game (5.5). She finished 10th in the NAIA in total scoring (574), 12th in field-goal percentage and 13th in point per game. Johnson earned three GPAC Player-of-the-Week honors this season, and is one of just a handful of athletes to earn the honor three times in GPAC basketball history.

Johnson led the team in scoring and rebounding per game, and also finished first with 27 blocked shots, fourth with 76 assists and had 22 steals. She shot better than 70 percent from the line and hit 25 3-pointers this season. She led the team in scoring 20 times, including a career-high 35 points against Northwestern on Feb. 13, and led the team in rebounding 11 times. Johnson scored the 1,000th point of her college career with a 20-point performance against Briar Cliff in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 16 at the Corn Palace.

This year’s honor marks the third for Hart, a junior guard from Alexandria, S.D. She earned second-team honors as a sophomore in 2012 and honorable mention accolades as a freshman in the 2010-11 season. Hart, who led the GPAC and the nation in 3-pointers made and per game last season, continued to be deadly from long range this season for the Tigers. She finished with 97 3-pointers good for fourth in the NAIA and 2nd in the GPAC. She also finished the year fifth in the nation and second in the league in three-point baskets per game (3.1).

Hart scored 356 points – second on the team – and pulled down 92 rebounds this season. She was second on the team with an average 11.5 points per game, and shot .383 from long range. She also went 21-for-22 from the free-throw line and had 49 assists and 23 steals. Hart scored a career-high 27 points against Doane on Jan. 26, and broke the DWU career record for three-pointers with 284 in three seasons. She scored the 1,000th point of her college career in the Tigers’ loss to Briar Cliff in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals.

Lamb earned the first GPAC honor of her career in her final season with the DWU program. She averaged 8.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and finished third on the team with 80 assists. She also tied for second on the team with 47 steals. In four seasons with the team, Lamb finished with 987 points and 342 rebounds along with 271 assists and 143 steals.

This is also the first GPAC honor for Beck, a sophomore guard from Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls. She led the NAIA and the GPAC with a .488 three-point percentage this season, and made 61 3-pointers – second on the team behind Hart. Beck finished third on the team with 11 points per game and also pulled down 91 rebounds. She had 67 assists and was second on the team with 41 steals, and also had 14 blocked shots.

Three of the Tigers’ four All-GPAC honorees return in 2013-14. Dakota Wesleyan loses just two seniors to graduation in Brittany Hills and Lamb. The Tigers beat three ranked opponents, including No. 2 Concordia and No. 9 Briar Cliff this season, and fell just shy in their quest for their first national tournament berth since 2003-04.

Northwestern’s Kendra De Jong was named the GPAC Player-of-the-Year. Concordia’s Katie Rich earned Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors, and Morningside’s Jess Tietz was named the league’s freshman-of-the-year. Morningside coach Jamie Sale earned GPAC Coach-of-the-Year honors.