Rio Grande women dominate All-RSC honors

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — University of Rio Grande junior guard/forward Ella Skeens headlines the list of honorees named to the 2021-22 All-River States Conference Women’s Basketball Team.

The 10-player First and Second teams, as well as individual award winners, were announced Monday by league officials. The selections were made through balloting of the league’s 13 head coaches in the RSC.

Skeens, a 5-foot-11 native of Chillicothe, Ohio, was named both the RSC Player of the Year and the RSC Newcomer of the Year.

Skeens, a transfer from Ball State University, averages 18.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while shooting just under 52 percent from the field, just over 41 percent from 3-point range and just under 76 percent at the foul line.

Rio Grande head coach David Smalley was also named the league’s Coach of the Year.

Now in his 30th season on the Rio bench, Smalley guided the RedStorm to a single-season program record-tying 30 wins and a No. 20 national ranking in the NAIA Top 25 poll. He also surpassed the 600-win mark for his career earlier this season.

Smalley’s squad, which won the RSC’s East Division title, has already clinched a berth in the NAIA National Championship as the league’s overall regular season champion.

Three other Rio Grande players also received recognition.

Junior forward Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH) joined Skeens on the All-RSC First Team, while freshman guard Kaylee Darnell (Wheelersburg, OH) and senior guard Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) were named to the Second Team.

Jordan averages 17.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, while shooting 53.2 percent overall and 86 percent from the free throw line.

Darnell averages 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest, while Chambers averages a team-best 5.7 assists to go along with 8.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per outing.

The remainder of the first team included WVU Tech senior guard Brittney Justice, who came in second in the overall voting and Midway (Ky.) University junior guard Dezeree White, who finished third in the voting.

Justice has been tearing up the RSC for five years, and White made a big impact as a newcomer to the Eagles this year.

IU East was the only other school to get two players on the first team, with guards Addie Brown and Kami McEldowney making the list.

The first team also included RSC veterans in Point Park (Pa.) University senior guard Michelle Burns, IU Kokomo senior forward Tia Chambers, Ohio Christian University junior center Rachel Gillum and Alice Lloyd (Ky.) College senior guard Haley Hall.

The second team had players from eight different schools, with Rio Grande and IU Southeast getting two selections each.

In addition to Darnell and Chambers, the second team also included Emmy Ralph and Lauren Lambdin from IU Southeast, Oakland City’s Taylor Dillard, Whittney Justice of WVU-Tech, Midway’s Allyson Callahan, Taylor Rinn from Point Park, IU East’s Kennedy Griffin and Rachel Bolyard of Ohio Christian.

The conference also named a Women’s Basketball Champions of Character Team, with one player from each school named for best representing the NAIA five character values of respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Rio Grande’s representative on the list was freshman Azyiah Williams (Ripley, OH).

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.