Thurston's Rice to play for LCSC women's basketball team
Kelli Ann Rice, a senior at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., recently signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team, Warrior coach Brian Orr has announced.
Rice played for coach Michelle Tuma-Larsen at Thurston and averaged 12.3 points and 3.5 assists per game with a season-high 27 points. She also shot 82 percent from the foul line and helped her team make it to the Oregon State Class 6A Tournament her final two seasons.
“We are excited to have Kelli part of our program,” Orr said. “Since we need to replace two point guards, we really wanted to fill one of those with a combo-guard. I don’t think we could have signed anyone better then Kelli to fill that role. She’s a good athlete who does everything well. Right now, she is probably better at the two-guard because she can flat-out shoot the ball, but she definitely has the skill set to play the point. It was a natural fit because it is pretty much the same role she has been playing in high school the last two seasons.”
Rice played her freshman year at Lowell High, located outside of Eugene, Ore., and helped the team to a third-place finish at the Oregon 1A State Tournament. Her family then moved to Springfield and she helped Thurston win its first Midwestern League girls’ basketball title in school history her junior season. The team reached the round of Sweet 16 at the Class 5A State Tournament, which is the highest finish at State in program history. The team then duplicated the feat her senior season despite moving up to the 6A classification. The team again made it to the Sweet 16 at State.
Rice earned first-team all-Mountain West League honors at Lowell and then first-team all-league honors as a junior and second-team all-league honors as a senior at Thurston. She won her team’s Leadership Award her final two seasons, voted upon by her teammates.
She also tied a tournament record for making six 3-pointers in a game at the Nike Interstate Shootout Tournament in Lake Oswego, Ore.
“I thought she was pretty good two summers ago when I first saw her play,” Orr said. “And then watching her last summer and seeing how much she improved in one year, I was amazed. Kelli is a great person, an excellent student and there is no question she will be an impact player in our program.”
Rice also lettered in volleyball as a freshman and tennis as a sophomore.
She has a 3.79 GPA and will graduate with honors later this spring.
Rice is the fourth freshman signee for Orr for next season. She joined Lewiston High’s Tanis Fuller, Colton High’s McKenzie Heaslet, and Priest River High’s Melissa Hopkins. Orr says he expects to announce a fifth signee soon.
LCSC lost four seniors from last year’s squad, which posted a 29-5 record and won the Frontier Conference Tournament title for the fourth straight season. LCSC also advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NAIA National Tournament.