(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — Montana redshirt senior Carmen Gfeller, already a 1,000-point scorer and a two-time All-Big Sky Conference selection, will return to the Lady Griz in 2023-24, her sixth year in the program.
Gfeller played as a true freshman in 2018-19, redshirted the 2019-20 season, was third-team All-Big Sky in 2020-21, first-team in 2021-22. She is averaging 13.2 points this season as a fifth-year senior.
Her redshirt season allowed her to play this year. COVID gave her the opportunity to extend her career one more season if that’s what she chose to do. She did.
“Every single year I’ve been at Montana, I’ve fallen more and more in love with the game. The thought of this experience being over, I wasn’t ready for that,” she said. “COVID and my redshirt year have given me more time than I was initially given, so I’m excited to make the most of those extra years.”
She made the decision months before the recent court-naming ceremony honoring former Montana coach Robin Selvig, an occasion that brought dozens of former Lady Griz back to Missoula.
Almost all of them would have told Gfeller the same thing: If you have the chance to keep playing, do it. You won’t regret it. Once the opportunity is gone, it’s gone for good.
“Every former college athlete I’ve spoken to has said, I’d do anything to go back, so I figured why not play it out as long as I can,” said Gfeller.
That means Montana could have nine of its 10 leading scorers from this year’s team back in 2023-24, with an experienced Gfeller leading the way for coach Brian Holsinger.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “How could you not be excited about a talented player and an awesome leader coming back? She represents the Lady Griz in an amazing way and has loved her experience. “Carmen is really driven to be the best player she can be, and I think she can continue to improve. I’m excited to see her reach her potential with the Lady Griz.”
The Associated Press Washington Player of the Year as a senior at Colfax (Wash.) High, Gfeller scored 15 points in her collegiate debut and played in 27 games as a true freshman, averaging 3.2 points.
She redshirted her second season, in 2019-20, then had a breakout performance in her return to the court in 2020-21. She led Montana in scoring and was voted third-team All-Big Sky.
Last season she earned first-team honors after averaging 13.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting and 6.7 rebounds.
Her current career numbers: 1,112 points (11.0/g) on 49.9 percent shooting and 458 rebounds (4.5/g). She’ll break into the program’s top 20 for career scoring by season’s end.
Gfeller missed this season’s first four games and had to ease into her minutes after spending months of the offseason in a walking boot as she overcame a longtime injury that was never allowed to heal.
She scored 22 points at Gonzaga right before Christmas and has scored in double figures in 13 of 16 games since. She has 59 double-figure scoring games in her career, eight double-doubles.