Former Ashland High star Gida joins So. Oregon

Five more student-athletes have agreed to join the Southern Oregon women's basketball team for the 2012-13 season, Raiders head coach Lynn Kennedy announced recently.

High school seniors Katie Aguilar, Annie Edgar and Kristin Smeaton and transfers Allison Gida and Lauryn Lesina join earlier signees Carly Meister and Ashley Claussen to form a seven-player recruiting class for the women's basketball program.

"We are extremely excited about this talented 2012 recruiting class," Kennedy said. "Not only are they standout athletes, but they are also exceptional students."

Kennedy did not have to travel far to find talented athletes for his 2012 class. Of the five latest signees, three are local to the Rogue Valley and another comes from northern California.

Katie Aguilar, a 5-foot-9 guard from Medford's Cascade Christian High School, was a first-team All-Southern Cascade Hybrid Conference and second-team 3A all-state honoree. She helped lead Cascade Christian to a third-place finish at the state tournament, the best finish in school history. She was also selected to play in the Mail Tribune All-Star Game.

"Katie has a tremendous work ethic and is a pure shooter," Kennedy said. "She was often double-teamed this year and still found a way to score. She comes from a great program, and we are excited that she will be staying close to home to continue her playing career."

Annie Edgar will come to SOU from Grants Pass High School. The 5-11 forward was named the 2011-12 6A Southern Oregon Hybrid Player of the Year and earned honorable mention all-state recognition. She averaged 16.9 points and 12 rebounds per game and shot 61 percent from the field, earning a spot in the Mail Tribune All-Star Game.

"Annie really impressed me this past season," Kennedy said. "She worked extremely hard on every possession and has the ability to score from the outside, but she can also finish strong at the basket. She is a great defender and usually guarded her opponent's best player, giving her valuable experience playing against some of the best players in the state in the Southern Oregon Hybrid Conference."

Kristin Smeaton will travel the furthest of the seven recruits to attend SOU. A 5-6 guard from Dillingham High School in Dillingham, Alaska, Smeaton ranked third in voting for the 3A player of the year award following the 2011-12 season. As a senior, she averaged 19.3 points per game to lead her team to the Western Conference Championship and a fourth-place finish at the state tournament. She was also selected to play in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star Game.

"Kristin is athletic and aggressive and finds a way to finish around the basket," Kennedy said. "She is an excellent defender who brings a lot of pressure and intensity. She comes from a successful program in Alaska and will bring that winning attitude to SOU."

The 2012-13 season will be a homecoming for Allison Gida, who spent the last two seasons at the NCAA Division I University of Utah after graduating from Ashland High School in 2010. The 5-11 guard appeared in 12 games last season for the Utes and totaled 12 points with eight rebounds. Two years ago she hit a 3-pointer and finished with a pair of steals and an assist in a game against the Raiders.

During her prep career, Gida was a first-team 5A all-state selection and two-time Southern Sky Conference player of the year (2008 and 2010). As a senior she averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and six steals per game and helped lead Ashland to a fifth-place finish at the state tournament.

"Allison is an unbelievable athlete and a gifted basketball player," Kennedy said. "She is a natural defender with a great combination of athleticism, strength, quickness and a sense for the ball. She is a great threat on offense not only with her shooting, but with her ability to break down her defender and finish at the basket."

Lauryn Lesina spent the last two years at College of the Siskiyous. A 5-9 guard from Crescent City, Calif., she graduated from Del Norte High School in 2010. Last season, she averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game to earn Golden Valley Conference Most Valuable Player and second-team all-state honors at College of the Siskiyous. She helped lead the team to a 23-4 record and the third round of the state playoffs.

Lesina broke the Siskiyous' program record with 181 career 3-pointers, and she also set the single-season school mark with 102 makes during the 2011-12 season. She was named Golden Valley Conference Freshman of the Year following the 2010-11 campaign.

"Lauryn was one of the top junior college shooters on the West Coast for the past two years, and we are really excited that she is going to be a Raider," Kennedy said. "She comes from a winning program and gives us an instant scorer and someone with great leadership qualities."

Rejoining the program after taking a year off will be Alexi Smith, who played with the Raiders in 2010-11. A 6-1 forward from Bakersfield, Calif., Smith appeared in all 31 games for the Raiders and was the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 11 points per game and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per contest.

Also joining the team will be earlier signees Carly Meister and Ashley Claussen.

"Each of our signees brings something special and unique to our program that will help take us to the next level," Kennedy said. "We feel we have the right pieces in place to make another run at the Cascade Conference championship."

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