Basketball Rangers commit to college ball

Two Forest Lake Ranger basketball players committed to playing college ball in mid-April.

Senior Anna Eckert signed with North Iowa Area Community College, a junior college in Mason City, Iowa.

The Lady Trojans went 34-3 this season and earned a third-place finish at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Overland Park, Kan. NIACC also went 16-0 in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference.

Eckert said she was excited by the opportunities that could arise during her time at NIACC.

“I really liked that they were so successful this year and in years past,” Eckert said. “Even though it’s community college, they have a big impact on their community and it’s cool that players have signed with Drake and San Diego after two years at NIACC.”

Forest Lake head basketball coach Jen Wagner said the junior college is a good fit for the Ranger athlete.

“It’s going to be a great fit and a good opportunity for more exposure,” Wagner said. “She will continue to flourish and step into her own. She has an incredible amount of potential and I know NIACC will help her continue along that path to grow as a person, student and player.”

Eckert will pursue a major in education.

“I just want to play basketball, enjoy my time there and have fun with the program until whatever comes next,” Eckert said.

Senior Miranda Rice will join her teammate in playing basketball in college. The all-conference post player recently decided to attend Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter after weighing the option of Augsburg as well.

“They had a better scholarship there for me so I decided to take the opportunity to go to Gustavus instead of Augsburg,” Rice said. “Laurie Kelly is the coach. It should be really fun, she’s a really nice lady and will be working with me down low in the post so that will be fun.”

The Gusties went 14-12 during the 2013-14 season and finished sixth in the 12-team Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Gustavus qualified for the MIAC playoffs, but fell to eventual champions, St. Thomas, in the quarterfinals.

Wagner said although both Augsburg and Gustavus have good programs, she is confident about Rice’s decision to attend GAC.

“Deep down I think she knew Gustavus was a better opportunity for her,” Wagner said. “They’re competitive, and obviously they play opponents close to Forest Lake, so I’m selfishly excited to be able to watch her play. The MIAC is a great league so it will be a challenge. She will be able to make an impact and contribute there, and it’s a great opportunity athletically and academically.”

Rice plans to major in elementary education.