West Liberty's Southworth Named WVC Player of the Year
West Liberty University women's basketball standout Hillary Southworth has been selected as the 2013 WVIAC Player of the Year while Hilltopper teammates Meghan Wiseman and Liz Flowers were also honored on Sunday when the conference's women's basketball coaches announced the results of their All-WVIAC balloting.
Southworth, the fourth Lady Hilltopper to earn Player of the Year honors, moved up to first-team All-WVIAC status after earning second-team laurels a year ago. Wiseman was a second-team All-WVIAC selection in the league-wide voting while Flowers was named to the WVIAC All-Freshman Team.
Southworth's first-team berth makes this the 15th consecutive season that the West Liberty women have had at least one first-team All-WVIAC selection. There has been a Lady Hilltopper on the All-WVIAC first-team honor roll in 23 of the last 24 seasons, dating back to 1989-90.
A 5-10 junior guard from Twinsburg, Ohio, Southworth joins Joanna Bernabei (1997), Jaana Kotova (2001) and Tori Hansen (2009) as West Liberty's WVIAC Women's Basketball Player of the Year honorees.
The nation's second-leading scorer at 24.2 ppg., Southworth was a driving force behind the late-season surge that lifted the Lady Hilltoppers to a second-place finish in the 15-team WVIAC and the No. 2 seed in this week's WVIAC Tournament.
West Liberty won 10 of its last 12 games as Southworth took her game to the next level. She averaged 28.1 points and 7.5 rebounds over that 6-week span, which included a school-record streak of 8 consecutive games with 25 or more points. She had three games with 30 or more points, topped by a career-high 43-point explosion in a 98-90 overtime victory at Pitt-Johnstown on Thursday that clinched the Hilltoppers' second-place finish.
Southworth, who has already scored more than 1,000 points in her two years at WLU, ended the regular season as the league's leading scorer by more than 100 points, making 49 more field goals than any other WVIAC woman. A four-time WVIAC Player of the Week, she also ranked among the top 10 in 3-point field goals, steals, free throw percentage and minutes played.
Joining Southworth on the All-WVIAC first-team unit were Ginny Mills and Kenyona Simmons of regular-season champion Glenville State, Paige Alviani and Katie Gattuso of Seton Hill, Kaitlin Snyder and Hailey Garrett of Fairmont State and West Virginia State's Jasmine Blanton.
Wiseman, a 6-0 senior post from Sistersville, W.Va., made an impressive return to the court after sitting out the 2012 season as a medical redshirt. The senior standout averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. She finished in a tie for the WVIAC lead in field-goal percentage at .560 to rank among the top 10 NCAA Division II women nationwide.
Along with Wiseman, second-team selections included Shepherd's Emily Daniel and Rachel Johnson, Davis & Elkins' Jorden Lykes and Page Turner, West Virginia Wesleyan's Atavia Blake and Brittany Maxey, and Jessi Cowden of Charleston.
Flowers, a 5-7 freshman from Williamstown, W.Va., started every game at the point in her debut season. She averaged 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game with 9 double-figure scoring games, three games with double-figure assists and two games with double-figure rebounds. She finished second in the WVIAC in assists and fifth in assist/turnover ratio.
Rounding out the All-Freshman Team were Breanna Butler and Jamie Sobczak of Wheeling Jesuit, Jasmine Harper of Pitt-Johnstown and West Virginia Wesleyan's Danesha Richardson. Harper was tabbed as the WVIAC Freshman of the Year while Glenville State's Bunky Harkleroad was the WVIAC Coach of the Year.
The West Liberty women open WVIAC Tournament play at home on Monday with a first-round game against Ohio Valley. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the ASRC