JMU roundup: Burkholder, Brooks earn VaSID state honors

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

NORFOLK – James Madison University senior guard Kirby Burkholder is the Virginia women’s basketball Player of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association (VaSID) the organization announced on Tuesday.

James Madison head coach Kenny Brooks was voted the State Coach of the Year.

Burkholder was joined on the 2014 All-State team by senior guard/forward Nikki Newman and junior forward Toia Giggetts, who were both named to the second team.

Burkholder is the fifth JMU player to be named the VaSID Player of the Year, joining Sydney Beasley (1987), Meredith Alexis (2007), Tamera Young (2008) and Dawn Evans (2011). She was the CAA Player of the Year, after averaging 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. She is a two-time first team all-state honoree after collecting the recognition in 2013 as well.

Brooks wins VaSID Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his career. He adds it to his Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year honor after he led the Dukes to a 29-6 overall record and its third CAA championship in the last five years. The Dukes advanced to the NCAA tournament round of 32 after picking up the program’s first NCAA tournament win since 1991 with a 72-63 victory over Gonzaga.

Joining Burkholder on the all-state first team were Robyn Parks (VCU), Shae Kelley (ODU), Uju Ugoka (Virginia Tech) and Alyssa Bennett (Hampton). Joining Newman and Giggetts on the second team were Ashley Rininger (Liberty), Taylor Brown (George Mason), Rachel Gordon (Norfolk State), Ataira Franklin (Virginia), Nichole Hamilton (Hampton) and Maliea Tate-DeFreitas (Hampton).

Tate-DeFreitas was voted the State’s Rookie of the Year.

Burkholder signs free-agent deal with Mystics

WASHINGTON — One day after the 2014 WNBA Draft, James Madison women’s basketball senior guard Kirby Burkholder signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Mystics.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Burkholder stated in a school news release. “It was exciting to get the call as this has always been a goal of mine. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to competing with the very best in the WNBA.”

By signing a contract, Burkholder will participate in the Mystics’ training camp to try and earn a spot on the team’s roster. Due to the new collective bargaining agreement, WNBA rosters have been expanded to 12 players although teams are not required to carry 12 players.

As a senior, Burkholder led the Dukes to their first NCAA tournament win since 1992, a 72-63 win over sixth-seeded Gonzaga in the first round. She was tabbed the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring (19.1 ppg), dropping a league-leading 102 3-pointers this season. Averaging 3.4 made 3-pointers per game, the 6-foot guard ranked third in the nation through the regular season.

Burkholder left her mark on the JMU record books. She finished her career with the purple and gold ranked fifth all-time in scoring (1,647), third all-time in rebounds (929) and seventh all-time in steals (190). She set a school record for career free-throw percentage (87.0 percent) after shooting a league-best 89.3 percent from the charity stripe as a senior. From beyond the arc this season, she sank the second-most 3-pointers in conference history (110).

Burkholder is the fourth player under head coach Kenny Brooks to sign a contract with a WNBA team. Meredith Alexis (’07), Tamera Young (’08) and Dawn Evans (’11) all signed professional contracts following their senior campaigns.

The Washington Mystics are coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2013, their first appearance in the playoffs since 2010.

They open the season at home on May 16 against the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

Men’s golf

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The James Madison men’s golf team moved up one spot in the final round and finished 10th at the 2014 Coca-Cola Wofford Invitational, April on Tuesday.

The two-day, 54-hole tournament, hosted by Wofford College, was played at the Country Club of Spartanburg (Par 72, 6,648 yards).

Again the rain impacted the round, delaying the final two holes with a downpour that delayed the finish by about an hour. The Dukes shot an 8-over 296 in the final 18 and finished at 12-over 876 for the 54-hole event. Elon set a tournament record in winning the team title at 31-under 833.

Senior Tucker Koch and freshman Ryan Cole shared the team-best honors at even-par 216, tying for 28th. Cole had a 2-under 70 in the final round, while Koch posted a 2-over 74 for his best 54-hole score of the 2013-14 season. Junior Trey Smith was next in a tie for 49th at 6-over 222, while freshman Poom Pattaropong tied 59th at 8-over 224. Senior Ben Firebaugh rounded out the team scoring at 17-over 233, tying for 78th.

Elon’s John Somers set a tournament record while taking home medalist honors, posting a 10-under 206, winning by two shots over five players.

James Madison will return to the course for the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Golf Championship, April 25-27, at St. James Plantation’s Reserve Course in Southport, N.C.