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Westminster basketball: Griffins add three to roster

SALT LAKE CITY – The Westminster College women’s basketball team signed Katie Panushka, Katie Richens and Lancee Whetman to NAIA/Frontier Conference letters of intent, head coach Shelley Jarrard announced Tuesday. They become the first three to commit to the Griffins for the upcoming season.

Panushka is a 5-foot-9 guard that will come to Westminster from Ogden, Utah, where she prepped at St. Joseph Catholic School. Panushka helped the Jayhawks to back-to-back Utah 1A state championships and was named the 1A MVP by The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News as a senior. She was twice named first team all-state and finished her high school career with 853 points. As a senior, Panushka averaged 12.4 points per game while also recording 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.5 rebounds per game. She also won state championships in soccer and tennis, and was the senior class president, a National Honor Society member and on the honor roll.

"Katie is the definition of work ethic,” Jarrard said. “If you ask her high school coach, Joe Cravens, about Katie he will rave on and on about her. She is someone who is an unbelievable student and person, who just happens to also have the extremely strong desire to beat you on the basketball court. Having her competitiveness and work ethic on our team will help raise our daily intensity and focus. I'm very pleased Katie has decided to be a part of our basketball program."

Richens joins the Griffins after spending one season with the University of Alaska-Anchorage and another at Salt Lake Community College. The 5-8 guard from Roosevelt, Utah, prepped at Roosevelt High School where she was twice named a first team all-state selection and the 3A MVP by The Salt Lake Tribune her junior year. Richens appeared in 30 games with the Bruins last season and was second on the team in scoring at 9.1 points per game. She led the team with 41 steals and was second with 77 assists. Richens was named second team All-SWAC last season and was presented with the Leadership Award, Academic Achievement Award and named to the President’s List.

"Katie is a very solid and skilled combo guard,” Jarrard said of Richens. “She possesses all of the intangibles a coach could want: strong leadership abilities, drive, toughness, and she is eager to learn and improve. I also love her nose for the ball as she is a guard who rebounds. She is an excellent student and a fantastic teammate."

Lancee Whetman comes to the Griffins from Sandy, Utah, where she attended Juan Diego Catholic School. The 6-0 forward averaged 10.8 points per game as a senior and helped the Soaring Eagle to a 19-3 overall record and the Region 10 title. She scored in double figures 10 times as a senior and twice had at least 20 points. Whetman was named honorable mention all-state and was also named to the honor roll.

"Lancee is a great fit with our program and system,” Jarrard said. “She is one of those first to the gym and last to leave type of dedicated players coaches love to have on their team. Tough, strong and a great rebounder on the inside, Lancee is also someone who can surprise you with her ball-handling and solid outside shot. I'm excited to have such a promising four-year athlete."

Westminster is coming off the best season in school history that saw the Griffins win a school-record 29 games and reach the quarterfinals of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championships for just the second time in school history. The five-time defending Frontier Conference regular season champions also won their first conference tournament title last season.