Junior college hoops await Rifle’s Chante Church
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Chante Church was given a lot of opportunities to play college basketball in a short amount of time, and she’ll be taking one of those opportunities across the Colorado border.
Church, a Rifle High School senior who was one of Class 4A’s leading scorers this past season, signed a letter of intent on Wednesday, April 9, to play basketball for McCook Community College in McCook, Neb. Church, who got looks from Division II and junior college programs from around the country, received a full-ride scholarship to play for the Indians.
“I was actually getting kind of worried,” said Church, who said she hadn’t heard much from college coaches until the middle of this past basketball season. “But then they came almost all at once. I sure didn‘t think I’d get a full ride. That made me feel pretty good.”
McCook, a National Junior College Athletic Association school that plays in the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference, finished with a 6-24 overall record and a 1-13 mark in conference play during the 2013-14 season. Church said she is one of several players from Colorado who have been recruited to play for the Indians during the 2014-15 season.
Church finished her senior season with the Bears with a 20 points per game scoring average, shooting 37 percent (129 for 345) from the field with 39 3-pointers and a 74 percent shooting percentage from the free throw line. Her scoring average ranked her fifth statewide among players in all classifications — third in Class 4A.
To add to those accolades, she shared the 4A Western Slope League’s Player of the Year award with Glenwood Springs senior Delaney Gaddis and joined her at the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All-State Games in Arvada on March 30.
Church named close to a dozen junior college and Division II schools who showed interest in her, including in-state schools like Division II Adams State, Colorado Mesa and Colorado Northwest Community College in Rangely, and out-of state JUCO schools from places as far away as Rhode Island and North Carolina. She admitted that the diversity of interested schools came from playing summer club basketball in Denver, with her teams traveling to tournaments around the country.
That also helped Church make up her mind for college, opting to hone her skills at the JUCO level for two years before transferring to what she now hopes will be a Division I college for her junior and senior years.
“I think that two-year period will give her time to develop her skills even more,” Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said. “It also gives her a chance to see what that competition is like, plus it sets people up to play Division I, if that’s the way they want to go. I think it’s a good route for her.”
And Church added that a change in scenery is something she’d like to have.
“I wanted to be someplace that’s, well, not here,” Church said. “Then hopefully, I’ll be able to get into something bigger and better later.”
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