Women’s basketball’s Shelby Kurt brings home the hardware

It’s been a good year for Laurier’s hometown freshman females.

After Waterloo’s Emily Brown was named the women’s soccer Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) West Rookie of the Year in late 2011, Shelby Kurt has garnered the same distinction, though more for her work with a basketball.

Kurt was named the league’s top freshman in late February, and the Waterloo Collegiate graduate was one of only two non-Windsor team members to collect any OUA hardware.

The Windsor Lancers made it to the OUA finals but lost to Ottawa. The Lancers boast four players over six-foot-three and Kurt is the lone Hawk who can break the six-foot barrier, standing at six-foot-one.

“I guess, I just naturally have a talent, being taller than most other girls, especially when I’m playing three (small forward) because other than Windsor, I’m probably the biggest three out there,” said the first-year.

Kurt has been the cornerstone of a new generation of Golden Hawks who hope to return to national prominence after last year’s powerhouse, consisting of fifth-years Renata Adamczyk, Megan Grant and Mallory Kohlmeier, drove the team to a fifth-place finish in Canada.

The post has already been steering the ship in her premier year. Kurt gathered 233 points coming off the bench this year and she scored a team-high 20 points in the squad’s 75-73 overtime first-round victory over Guelph.

She followed that up with an 11-point effort versus the Brock Badgers in the Hawks’ playoff defeat in the OUA quarterfinals.

And Kurt dominates inside the paint.

“Most of the time, I have a smaller guard on me because I’m stronger and quicker than some,” said the team’s leading free-throw shooter. “So if there’s a smaller person on me, I can usually cut around them pretty easily.”

The Waterloo native had been playing guard her whole life, and with new recruit Whitney Ellenor coming in, it may be a possibility for next year, although coach Paul Falco has yet to play his hand in terms of positions.

Kurt says the transition between high school ball and Laurier couldn’t have been easier, thanks to some colourful characters.

“We have a great bunch of girls,” said Kurt. “I like [graduated] Christa [Mancino] . She’s a lot of fun to play with. And Doreen [Bonsu], she brings so much energy to the team; same with Kim [Yeldon].”

But it’s tough picking someone she thought complements her well.

“Pretty much all the girls are fun to play with.”

With Kurt leading the team into next year, the state of Laurier women’s basketball is one of the brighter ones for 2012-13.

“We’ve got a lot of girls back so that’ll be good. We’ve already played one year with each other [so the learning curve won’t be as tough],” said the psychology major.

Mancino is the only graduate, with Amber Hillis having the option to move on, being in fourth year.

Returning to the Hawks next season are Yeldon, Bonsu, Bree Chaput, Laura Doyle, Alena Luciani, Felicia Mazerolle and fellow first-years Courtney Bruce, Samantha Jacobs, Natalie Taylor and Natasha Valconi.

Kurt was named Laurier’s Player of the Week on Monday, January 9 and hit career highs on December 3 when she put up 22 points against Carleton.

Her highest rebound total during the regular season came on November 25, 2011 when she collected 11 against Laurentian University.

“At points of the season I think we struggled because we weren’t as experienced,” said Kurt.

“We’re pretty successful for a young team.”

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