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The Lakeland College women's basketball team was picked second in the Northern Athletics Conference North Division, according to the 2009-10 preseason coaches' poll release this week.
Concordia, Wis., received 11 of 13 first-place points and 75 poll points to claim the top spot in the six-team North Division. The Falcons (23-6, 16-1) won the North last season, and also the NAC tournament, earning a spot in the NCAA III Championship tournament.
Lakeland received the remaining two first-place votes for 66 poll points. The Muskies (17-9, 11-6) finished third in the North Division last season and return their leading scorer and rebounder and second team All-NAC honoree KC Blahnik. The senior guard/forward averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last season, and also led the team in assists (52) and steals (42).
Head coach Teri Johnson said her senior core of Blahnik, Chelsea Coenen, Katie Kilton and Terra Hibben, who returns to the program after not playing last season, are setting a tone of hard work and intensity in early-season practices.
"Sliding up to second from last year is nice recognition," Johnson said. "Our focus is being in the mix at the top, but we know Concordia is a competitive program and playing at that level is going to come with hard work and commitment from us throughout the year. I feel like our players are so much more confident. Our expectations of each other are very high."
Edgewood College was picked third in the North with 52 points. The Eagles have a new head coach at the helm as Casey Thousand, a 2004 Lakeland graduate and former standout player for the Muskies.
Rockford College was chosen fourth in the North with 39 poll points, Marian University was picked fifth (25) Maranatha Baptist Bible College was last (16).
Aurora University was predicted to win the South Division. Aurora received eight of the 13 first-place votes for 78 total poll points in the seven-team South. Wisconsin Lutheran College was chosen second in the South with three first place votes and 73 poll points, while MSOE was picked third in the South with 70 poll points and two first place votes.
For a look at the complete poll, visit the league website.
The NAC regular season concludes with the annual North/South Challenge which pits the divisions' teams against each other based on the final NAC standings. The South Division won last season's challenge 4-2. This season's challenge takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The 2010 NAC Women's Basketball Tournament is scheduled for Feb. 24, 26 and 27. The top four teams from each division make up the eight-team tournament, with the tournament champion receiving the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA III Championship tournament.