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Montana Lady Griz announce annual award winners

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 22, 2021

(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)

MISSOULA -- The Montana women’s basketball program announced its annual postseason award winners recently. Juniors Abby Anderson, Kylie Frohlich and Sophia Stiles were recognized, as was sophomore Carmen Gfeller.

Anderson, in a reflection of her meteoric rise since becoming a Lady Griz, went from the Grace Geil Most Improved Player last season to the Mary Louise Pope Zimmerman Most Valuable Player this year.

Stiles, an unusually tenacious player on that end of the court, made it a perfect three for three, winning the Julie Deming Outstanding Defensive Player award for the third time.

Gfeller, who went from 87 points as a freshman to averaging a team-high 14.3 points on Big Sky Conference-leading 52.9 percent shooting this season, was named the Grace Geil Most Improved Player.

Gfeller and Anderson were voted third-team All-Big Sky last month, marking the first time since 2015-16 that Montana had a pair of players voted all-league.

Frohlich doubled up on the awards, winning both the Shannon Green Most Inspirational Player and the Theresa Rhoads Award for best exemplifying Lady Griz basketball.

The awards followed a 2020-21 season that will be remembered for empty arenas, endless COVID testing, the daily threat of canceled games and a Big Sky schedule that had teams playing opponents back-to-back to reduce travel.

“I wish we could give an award to (Lady Griz athletic trainer) JC Weida for leading our team and the entire department through an unprecedented season,” said 2020-21 interim head coach Mike Petrino. “His consistent education throughout the year and the patience he demonstrated while guiding us through all the challenges that COVID brought deserves public recognition.”

Petrino inherited a roster in a state of flux just over a year ago, when he was elevated from assistant coach to interim head coach.

He stabilized the roster, provided the program a state of calm and went about adding players until he had a full squad with which to move forward.

“This was a very challenging and rewarding season,” said Petrino. “It started with uncertainty and moved into the unknown as we learned to plan, prepare and pivot.

“I’m proud of the efforts our staff and players made this year and I wish the Lady Griz program all the best moving forward.”

Montana went 12-11 overall and finished sixth in the Big Sky standings at 9-8, just the second time in the last five years the Lady Griz were above .500 in league.