GLENDIVE, Montana – Ashya Klopfenstein had no idea what to expect when she decided to play basketball at Dawson Community College.
She didn’t expect to average 13.1 points per game her freshman season.
She never expected to lead the team in rebounds, steals and blocks per game.
She didn’t think she would play over 20 minutes a game.
She also didn’t expect to be an All-American honorable mention.
Her coach Romeo Lagmay Jr. told her that he nominated her for an award before the season was over, but she didn’t have a clue what it could be. At their end of the season meeting, Lagmay Jr. presented the award that said she was voted a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American honorable mention.
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t even know those type of accomplishments even existed,” Klopfenstein said. “It was not on my radar at all.”
She was also named to the Mon-Dak All-Conference second team.
For the 2019-20 season, the 2019 Westview graduate started 27 of 32 games, averaged 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
“I think it went well. I think as a team collectively we did really well for most of us being freshman. We only had two returning sophomores, so we were a really young team with the toughest schedule our program has seen in the history of women’s basketball,” Klopfenstein said.
The Buccaneers finished 15-17 and 7-7 in conference play.
Like most first-year college basketball players, Klopfenstein said there was an adjustment period. By the end of the season, she felt more comfortable. She scored a season-high 34 points in a 92-81 win over Lake Region State College on Feb. 9. She finished the year with nine double-doubles.
“I think I became more of a ‘big’ down low. With all of the weight training and conditioning that we did, I really learned how to use my strength that I didn’t know how to use in high school,” Klopfenstein said. “That led to more rebounds, which led to more offense for me. Near the end of the season, I felt like I got a couple of my moves down.”
She set a program record for rebounds in a single game with 19.
The plan for some junior college players is to move on to another level, whether it’s NAIA or NCAA Division I, II or III. For Klopfenstein, she plans on keeping her options open.
“I plan to just play my best basketball and if a school comes along and fits me academically and location-wise, then I’m going to pursue it. I would like to go on to have my school paid for. That would be a really big blessing,” Klopfenstein said.
When Klopfenstein committed to play for Dawson, there were a lot of unknowns.
“Honestly, I did not know what to expect. I was going so far away and playing with girls I’ve never met before and playing for a coach that I only met once before. Getting there and playing open gyms in the summer time, and then going through conditioning and starting practice, I knew we had a lot of talent. I don’t think we reached our full potential,” Klopfenstein said.
She said the community support made the transition to college life easier.
“The community is amazing. They’re so supportive of the girls and the boys. They know you. You go to the local grocery store, they’ll pay for your groceries if they see you. They’re so supportive, so nice and kind,” Klopfenstein said.
After earning some of the achievements she’s gained after this past season, Klopfenstein said she is striving for more. She wants to make the first team all-conference and be a first team All-American.