ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The NECC announced its 2017-18 Women’s Basketball All-Conference teams and major award winners on Monday afternoon. The awards were voted on by the conference’s nine coaches following the conclusion of the regular season. Eight of the nine conference schools are represented on the all-conference teams, with Newbury College leading the way with three honorees, as well as three of the four major awards.
Newbury senior forward Destiny Spears (Arnold, Md.) was voted the 2018 NECC Player of the Year, while her teammate Jaymesha Sanders (West Haven, Conn.) earned Rookie of the Year honors. Dean College’s Jamaya Cleveland (Greensboro, Ga.) was named Defensive Player of the Year, and Newbury head coach Marc Taney was voted Coach of the Year by his peers.
Joining Spears on the first team is fellow Newbury forward, Savannah Olsen (Battle Creek, Mich.). Sophomore guard Cassidy Harrison (Foxborough, Mass.) from Becker College, guard/forward Morgan Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) of Dean, and Katie Walsh (East Islip, N.Y.) from Wheelock College round out the first team selections.
Rookie of the Year Jaymesha Sanders earned a spot on the second team. The second team also features two from Elms College, forward Niah Pantry (New Haven, Conn.) and guard Mackenzie Larochelle (Chicopee, Mass.). Becker forward Adrianna Dowdy (East Haven, Conn.) and Dean forward Shannon Rosensteel (Sunrise, Fla.) were also second team selections.
Mitchell College landed two on the third team, with Haley Garcia (South Windsor, Conn.) and Francesca Pinard (Arlington, Mass.) being honored. Lesley University’s Dakota Jones (Torrance, Calif.) also earned third-team accolades, as did Southern Vermont College junior Maddy Main (Bennington, Vt.), and Wheelock senior Emma Siver (Colchester, Conn.)
NECC Player of the Year – Destiny Spears, Newbury (Sr., F, Arnold, Md.)
In her senior campaign, Spears led the Nighthawks to a 14-and-2 regular season conference record, clinching the number one seed in the conference playoffs. Spears averaged a double-double in conference play, with 16.7 points per game, and 10.0 rebounds per game. Her 16.7 point per game in regular season play was good for third in the conference. The senior also averaged 3.2 assists per game, good for second in the conference. The complete package, Spears was also a force on the defensive end, leading the conference with 4.6 steals in conference play. Spears is now the all-time leading scorer in Newbury history with 1,437 points. She was a one time 2017-18 NECC Player of the Week selection (week ending 2/19/18).
NECC Defensive Player of the Year- Jamaya Cleveland, Dean (Jr., G/F, Greensboro, Ga.)
Junior Jamaya Cleveland was the leader of a Dean defense that only allowed conference opponents to score 49.7 points per game. The junior’s leadership on the defensive end helped Dean to a 14-and-2 record, and a share of the NECC regular season title in its first year in the NECC. Often relied upon to lockdown their opponents top scorer, Cleveland used her quickness and instincts to pick up 40 thefts in conference play (2.9 steals per game), good for a tie for third in the conference. She pulled down 2.1 defensive rebounds per game, and also tacked on four blocks.
NECC Rookie of the Year – Jaymesha Sanders, Newbury (Fr., F., West Haven, Conn.)
Freshman Jaymesha Sanders was an integral part in Newbury’s success in conference play, helping the Nighthawks to a 14-and-2 conference record, and a No. 1 seed in the NECC Championship. The Nighthawks made it to the Championship game, for which Sanders earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. In her rookie season, Sanders averaged a double-double, scoring 14.5 points per game, and pulling down 13.5 boards per game, second in the league. Sanders also broke the freshman scoring record at Newbury, with 393 points this season. She earned NECC Rookie of the Week honors five times (weeks ending 11/20/17, 12/4/17, 1/8/18, 1/22/18 and 1/29/18).
Coach of the Year- Marc Taney, Newbury
In his second season, Taney led the Nighthawks to 14-and-2 conference record, and the No. 1 seed in the NECC Women’s Basketball Championship. Newbury’s 14 wins are the most for the program since the Nighthawks joined the NECC. His team led the conference in points per game (69.3), and was second in points allowed at 47.9. This is Taney’s first NECC Coach of the Year award.
First Team All-NECC
Cassidy Harrison, Becker (So., G, Foxborough, Mass.)
Morgan Turner, Dean (Sr., G/F, Winter Park, Fla.)
Savannah Olsen, Newbury (Jr., F, Battle Creek, Mich.)
Destiny Spears, Newbury (Sr., F, Arnold, Md.)
Katie Walsh, Wheelock (Jr., F, East Islip, N.Y.)
Second Team All-NECC
Adrianna Dowdy, Becker (Jr., F, East Haven, Conn.)
Shannon Rosensteel, Dean (So., F, Sunrise, Fla.)
Mackenzie Larochelle, Elms (Sr., G, Chicopee, Mass.)
Niah Pantry, Elms (Jr., F, New Haven, Conn.)
Jaymesha Sanders, Newbury (Jr. F, West Haven, Conn.)
Third Team All-NECC
Dakota Jones, Lesley (So., F, Torrance, Calif.)
Haley Garcia, Mitchell (So., G, South Windsor, Conn.)
Francesca Pinard, Mitchell (Jr., F, Arlington, Mass.)
Maddy Main, Southern Vermont (Jr., G, Bennington, Vt.)
Emma Siver, Wheelock (Sr., G, Colchester, Conn.)
All-NECC Sportsmanship Team
Jai Ruiz, Bay Path (Jr., G, Hadley, Mass.)
Sarah Ware, Becker (So., F, Oakham, Mass.)
Sophia Church, Dean (Fr., G, Rochester, Mass.)
Rachel Granger, Elms (So., G, Hampden, Mass.)
Elizabeth Portante, Lesley (Fr., F., Littleton, Mass.)
Marissa Sweeney, Mitchell (Fr., F, Hudson, N.H.)
Destiny Spears, Newbury (Sr., F, Arnold, Md.)
Bentleigh Harvey, Southern Vermont (Jr., F, Bennington, Vt.)
Gabrielle Haywood, Wheelock (Sr., F, Longmeadow, Mass.)