Lady Devils’ senior inks LOI to join NAIA Red Storm –
By Mark Carpenter –
The Rio Grande Red Storm added a touch of green last week as North Adams senior Avery Harper held ceremonies to sign her letter of intent to become a member of the Red Storm women’s basketball program. The Nov. 7 signing ceremony was held in the gymnasium at North Adams High School in the presence of teammates, family, and friends.
Harper, a 6′ 0′ post player for the Lady Devils, is coming off a 2016-17 season where she averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game as her team finished 17-8, losing to Alexander in the Division III District finals, Harper was an All-Conference player and an All-District selection and heads into her senior season bearing down on the 1,000 point plateau.
For her entire high school career, Harper has been coached by Rob Davis, who is very aware of the impact she has had on his basketball program.
“Avery has been playing varsity for four years and is just a good kid and a leader on and off the floor,” said Coach Davis at the signing ceremony. “My wife told me that she didn’t know what I was going to do when Avery left, she is like the mother figure to her teammates. I just tell her what to do and she takes it from there and that will be missed.”
“She just loves the game and comes from a good family and I know she will succeed at Rio. We kind of slowly mixed her in her freshman year and then when she was a sophomore she had a 25-point game against Georgetown and I knew she was going to be okay. She has worked hard on her footwork and ball handling and she has really developed to where she can take her game outside and put the ball on the floor. It’s great to send a kid to the next level, makes every coach feel good. It’s special because it doesn’t happen that often.”
The Red Storm are an NAIA school, playing in the River States Conference, and finished 19-12 last season. The Rio Grande women are coached by a familiar face in Adams County, Peebles graduate Dave Smalley, who was on hand for Harper’s signing.
“I have ties in this county and I know this is good basketball country,” said Coach Smalley. “I have known Coach Davis for years and he does a great job her and we need physicality and size on our team and Avery helps us to beef up the inside. I’ve watch Avery for a couple of summers and she’s been down to some of our tournaments. I like what she brings-she can mix it up and go outside and shoot. Plus she is an unbelievable student which is the most important thing.”
“We’re excited to get her into our program and looking forward to four great years.”
For Harper, the decision to choose the Red Storm program came down to a basic fact-it’s not that far away.
“I knew I wanted to stay close to home,” said the North Adams senior. “When I went to Rio, it had the small, hometown feel and when I met Coach Smalley and the team, I really liked them. He told me how they played and I liked that so when he offered me, I knew that it was a good match.”
While at Rio, Harper plans to major in either Chemistry or Biology, with the ultimate goal of going to dental school and becoming an orthodontist.