News release date: March 1, 2004

Whitman's Patneaude, Vertatschitsch Earn NWC Women's BB Honors

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Katie Patneaude and Laura Vertatschitsch, two guards who helped spark the Whitman College women's basketball team to a share of the Northwest Conference title, have earned all-conference honors.

Patneaude was the only first-year player named to the All-Northwest Conference First Team. A 5-foot-10 point guard, Patneaude averaged 11.9 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game.

Vertatschitsch, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, received honorable mention recognition. Vertatschitsch played the entire season with a broken bone in her left foot.

Patneaude, a graduate of Seattle Preparatory School, earned NWC Player of the Week honors in mid-February after contributing 41 points, 24 rebounds, eight assists and six steals to three Missionary victories. She led Whitman in scoring five times this season, erupting for a season-high 21 points at George Fox. She was Whitman's top rebounder in eight games, including a 12-rebound effort against Pacific Lutheran.

Patneaude posted two double-doubles during the season. She combined 12 points with ten rebounds (plus five assists) against Lewis & Clark and had 12 rebounds and ten points against Pacific Lutheran.

"Katie had a tremendous first season," Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz said. "She is a very talented all-around player and gave us a tremendous effort every night."

Vertatschitsch, a graduate of Issaquah (Wash.) High School, broke a small bone in her left foot while scoring 17 points in Whitman's season-opening victory over Colorado College. After missing the next night's game, she returned to start all but one of Whitman's remaining games. She also hurt a knee midway through the season that will require post-season surgery.

Despite the injury problems, Vertatschitsch led Whitman in scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game. She scored 21 points in two games, once against Eastern Oregon and once against Pacific.

"Laura is one of the toughest competitors I have ever coached," Ferenz said. "The fact that she played with a broken bone in her foot and torn cartilage in her knee and still had such a great season is amazing. I look forward to having her back and healthy next year."

Ferenz was disappointed that two of her players, sophomore forward Lizzy Washburn and first-year forward Sarah Laird, were left off the all-conference teams.

"Lizzy played so well down the stretch, and she might be our most improved player from last season," Ferenz said. "Sarah had some big scoring games this year, but she also one of our leading rebounders and solid defenders throughout the season."

Washburn, a 5-foot-9 forward from Mundelein, Ill., averaged 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds. She capped her season with a double-double, scoring 12 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists in a season-ending victory that clinched Whitman's share of the NWC title.

Laird, a 5-foot-11 forward from Los Altos, Calif., averaged 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. In a December non-conference game, Laird blitzed the University of Great Falls for 29 points and seven rebounds. Her best single-game rebounding effort of the season came against Willamette, when she grabbed 10 boards.

In winning its first women's basketball title in more than a decade, Whitman set school records for most consecutive victories (nine), most wins in a season (19), and highest winning percentage (.760).

The Missionaries finished with a 19-6 record on the season, which included an 11-3 mark in the NWC. Whitman and Puget Sound shared the conference title, but it was Puget Sound that won a coin toss to get the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Div. III national playoffs.


Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, (509) 527-5902
Email: holden@whitman.edud