Wayne State College was picked to finish fourth overall and second in the South Division in the 2017-18 NSIC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll released Wednesday morning by the league office in Burnsville, Minnesota. Senior center Paige Ballinger was named Preseason South Division Player of the Year for the second straight season in a vote of league coaches.
The Wildcats received 182 points overall and 44 points with three first-place votes in the South Division polls. WSC returns three starters from last year’s team that was 23-7 overall and placed second in the NSIC South with a 16-6 league mark.
MSU Moorhead edged Northern State 213-209 as the team to beat in the NSIC this season. The Dragons collected 10 first-place votes with Northern State receiving four. Augustana was third overall with 200 points and the remaining two first-place votes followed by WSC (182) and Winona State (152 pts) in the top five.
Concordia-St. Paul (140 pts.) was sixth followed by Minnesota State (132), Minnesota Duluth (126), University of Mary (125) and Sioux Falls (123) filling out the top 10 teams.
In the NSIC South Division poll, Augustana collected 47 points and five first-place votes with WSC second at 44 points and the final three first-place votes. Winona State was third (33) with Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota State tied for fourth at 29 points. Sioux Falls (20), Southwest Minnesota State (14) and Upper Iowa (8) rounded out the South Division.
For the second straight season, Wildcat center Paige Ballinger was selected as the Wayne State Player to Watch in the NSIC while also being voted the Preseason South Division Player of the Year. The 6-1 senior from Pender was a First Team All-NSIC selection for a second straight year last season after averaging 14.9 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. She led the NSIC in blocked shots (2.6/game) while ranking eighth in the league in field goal percentage (.498) and 10th in scoring. Ballinger scored double figures in 24 games with eight contests of 20 or more points.
Wayne State is scheduled to open the 2017-18 season on Friday, November 3rd at the Division II CCA/Disney Tip-Off Classic in Anaheim, California as the Wildcats meet Young Harris College (Ga.) at 1:15 p.m. Central Time.