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The Lakeland College women's basketball team has been selected to finish sixth in the Northern Athletics Conference North Division by the league's coaches, the conference announced Thursday.
The Muskies had a disappointing season last year, finishing sixth in the division. Lakeland received 35 points in this year's preseason poll.
Wisconsin Lutheran College has been picked to win the North Division, receiving 90 points, including 12 of the 13 first-place votes. In second place is Concordia University Wisconsin who garnered 77 points and one first-place vote. Edgewood College (64 points) was third, Marian University (45 points) fourth, Alverno College (40 points) fifth and Maranatha Baptist Bible College (13 points) was seventh.
In the South, Dominican University was the heavy favorite receiving 12 first-place votes and 76 points, in front of Benedictine University who garnered one first-place vote and 62 points. Milwaukee School of Engineering (45 points) was third.
Last season, the Muskies finished 10-15 overall, 6-12 in the NAC. As a team last season the Muskies averaged 58.3 points and 34.3 rebounds per game while shooting 35 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc. While the Muskies lose their top three scorers, they have a new coach and a talented group of athletes that are ready to fill the void.
Senior guard Erin Cepa (Glenview, Ill.) returns as Lakeland's leading scorer (7.3 points), while fellow senior point guard Becca Tilleman (Green Bay, Wis.) returns as the team's leader in assists (76) and steals (63). Another key returnee for the Muskies is senior forward Alyssa Schuttenhelm. The Waterford, Wis. native played in 23 games last season, starting in 14 and averaging 17.9 minutes, 3.7 rebounds and 7.1 points per game.
Also returning for Lakeland is sophomore center Leah Eisner (Stevens Point, Wis.), who missed the entire 2010-11 season with a knee injury. She looks to return to form and be a force inside for the Muskies. Other key contributors returning include senior Allison Davis (Sheboygan, Wis.), juniors Becky Mayo (Gladstone, Mich.) and Dana Henrichs (Fall Creek, Wis) and sophomore Aimee Thrune (Prairie du Sac, Wis.).
The NAC enters its fourth season of divisional play. Lakeland is in the North along with Concordia, Wis., Wisconsin Lutheran, Edgewood, Alverno, Maranatha, and Marian. The Muskies play each team in their division twice. The South division is comprised of Benedictine, Concordia University Chicago, MSOE, Aurora, Rockford and Dominican. Lakeland will play each of these teams once.
Click here for the NAC preseason poll release.
Click here to see Lakeland College head coach Lindsey VandeHoef's thoughts on the poll.