HELENA — Frontier Conference preseason women’s basketball favorite Carroll College entertained Helena fans for the first time in 2018, while the Kurt Paulson-era is officially under way for the Fighting Saints.
Rachelle Sayers and Paulson led their programs for the annual Carroll College basketball scrimmages Friday evening, showcasing each team’s talent before exhibition play begins later in October.
Sayers and Carroll received four first-place votes and 34.5 total points in the league’s preseason polls. The Saints won the regular-season and conference tournament championships last winter. Carroll lost graduating seniors Bailey Pasta and Michaela Dowdy from last year’s national tournament squad but returns all-conference athletes in Hannah Dean and Cassidy (Hashley) Kosena. The duo is joined by fellow seniors Mikaela Olson and Brittney Johnson in leading Carroll this season.
Sayers also returns a bevy of talent in the underclassmen ranks, including junior Taylor Salonen and sophomores Dani Wagner, Christine Denny and Jaidyn Lyman. Redshirt freshman Nikki Krueger of Kalispell is also expected to play a significant role in the post.
Paulson was hired April 12 to replace Carson Cunningham, who left for University of the Incarnate Word after success at the national level with the Fighting Saints. Paulson, a former Carroll guard, will look to replace all-American forward and NAIA player of the year Ryan Imhoff, who graduated last year.
Match Burnham, Ife Kalejaiye, Matt Wyman and Alex Santos, all seniors, will lead the Saints this season. Burnham and Wyman combined to average 25 points per game last season.
The Carroll College men open their season with an exhibition next Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Sayers and the Carroll women travel to Missoula to meet the Montana Lady Griz on Tuesday, Oct. 30.