The recognition for Three Rivers women’s basketball’s season isn’t quite finished.
On Monday, the NJCAA released its list of All-Americans from the season. Sophomore Hailee Erickson received Third Team honors, and redshirt freshman Deanay Watson received a spot on the Honorable Mention list.
“I was pretty excited. I thought it was pretty cool that me and Deanay got it, too. Just after the season that we had this year, you know, just getting to the national tournament and all that kind of stuff, that just capped it off for me right before I’ve gotta graduate,” Erickson said.
The two were the team’s leading scorers on the season, and both players hit a season-high of 30 points during the year. Watson reached 30 in the first game of the season in a blowout win over Arkansas State Mid-South.
“I was excited, and I was proud. I was just shocked, for real,” Watson said. “I really didn’t actually picture it. I really wasn’t expecting it, honestly, so when I saw it I honestly was shocked. Because I mean, I know I put in a lot of hard work and stuff, but I just never knew it would get me this far.”
In Watson’s 30-point performance, she went 14 of 16 from the field. Her 14 makes tied the program record for makes in a game. The mark was originally set by Michelle Gainey in the 2000-01 season.
Erickson scored 30 after she had a lights-out third quarter in the team’s Region XVI opener against Mineral Area. In that game, she made eight 3-pointers, tying for the third-most in a game in program history. Erickson finishes her career third on the program’s all-time list for made 3-pointers with 159, and with 82 makes this season she tied for the fifth-highest total in a single season in program history.
“I’ve always just been told to work my hardest,” Erickson said. “Hard work pays off, and I know that if anybody works their tail off, it’s going to show. For me, coming down and putting all the records in the books and getting all this stuff, I know my hard work paid off.”
Erickson led the Lady Raiders with 14.3 points per game 41.7 percent from the floor. She also shot 35.7 percent from 3-point range and led the team in assists with four per game. Her 82 made 3’s placed her 17th in the nation, and she was also 17th in free throw shooting at 83.1 percent.
Watson averaged 13.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds, leading the team on the glass. She finished the year with nine double-doubles, and her 57.4 percent shooting mark from the floor led the team and was good for 22nd in the country. She ranked 21st in offensive rebounds with 120. Her 254 rebounds place fifth place on the team’s single-season rebounding list.
Watson bounced back and then some after having to redshirt a season ago. Last season, she appeared in three games before sustaining a severe sprain in her thumb on her shooting hand, forcing her to miss the rest of the season.
“It took some time. It was quite easy because it my thumb. It wasn’t something like a knee or anything, but it was easy. I got through it, and after I got through it I got back shooting and stuff like that and it worked out,” Watson said.
She came back this year and was a huge factor in getting the team ranked in the top 25 for the first time in three seasons and to its first NJCAA Tournament in 15 years. With one more year left, Watson just got even more motivation to work toward getting onto the first, second or third-team list.
“It gets me really motivated because now it’s like, OK, people are expecting a lot and I’m just going to go and fight for what I want,” Watson said.
Overall, the accolades have stacked up for the team. Three Rivers finished as undefeated Region XVI champions, undefeated conference champions, District K champions. Erickson also earned First Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference. Watson earned First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Region XVI Freshman of the Year. Jordan Little was named First Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference. Katelyn South made Second Team All-Region and Second Team All-Conference. Hannah Thurmon earned Second Team All-Conference honors, and J’Kayla Fowler was named Second Team All-Region.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic