GREAT FALLS — Stephanie McDonagh (19.7 ppg), Jenna Randich (17 ppg) and Parker Esary (14.9 ppg) are the three leading scorers on the University of Providence Argos.
They play different positions, and have different strengths – but they all share one thing in common.
They played for the same AAU program before landing in Great Falls.
“It really prepared us for the college level,” said McDonagh, the All-American senior guard. “And it just gave us a higher basketball IQ for sure. I think the three of us really contribute to that with the team, a sense of awareness on the court.”
The Northwest Stars have served as a pipeline for the Argos, providing talented players that are ready to step on the court the minute they arrive in Great Falls as freshmen.
“We’ve had a lot of great players from that program over the years,” said head coach Bill Himmelberg. “Coach Al (Aldridge) over there does a great job. Their whole system over there is great.”
And it’s mutually beneficial. Great Falls, Montana can seem a world away from home for fresh recruits from the Northwest. Having a built in support system with friends and teammates makes the transition a lot easier.
“It’s awesome, that’s one of the reasons I did come here was because of (Jenna and Stephanie) obviously,” said freshman post Esary. “Playing on a tournament team was really fun and then knowing them here might have made us better. We’ve already played together so we meshed really quick.”
And the pipeline won’t stop soon, the Argos recently signed Northwest Stars product Reed Hazard to next year’s recruiting class and hope more players and more success will follow.
“It’s just one good girl after another,” Himmelberg said. “They all like coming here, they all like playing together, they played together before which really makes it nice. They have a lot of chemistry already and it shows on the basketball court.”