BOONE — Appalachian State’s women’s basketball team won over a new fan during its 76-59 win over North Texas in the finals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational on April 3.
That support came from newly hired App State men’s basketball coach Dustin Kerns, who attended the game with his family. Kerns was one of the 1,823 in attendance, which was a school record for the women’s program.
“Congratulations to coach Angel Elderkin,” Kerns said at the end of the Mountaineers’ win. “What a great 22 wins and they’re returning everybody but one player. She’s done an amazing job to build this program and this is great motivation for our program to do the same.”
Elderkin led Appalachian State to a 22-14 record, her highest victories total in a season during her tenure, which dates back to Oct. 1, 2014. Her reward was to receive a four-year contract extension on April 8. Appalachian State went 10-2 over its final 12 games, and the Mountaineers lose just one player from the active roster.
That’sleading scorer Madi Story, who averaged 12.3 points during the 2018-19 season. Story made a full comeback after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament at the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
Kerns envisioned the enthusiasm of the Holmes Center crowd when he leads the men’s team into the 2019-20 season.
“There’s so much great pride in the alumni and in the fan base and it’s so exciting to see the crowd and the excitement of this women’s championship,” Kerns said. “This is exciting for App State, not just for the women’s program but for athletics in general to see this kind of excitement and winning.”
The women’s team returns four starters for next season. WBI Most Valuable Player Pre Stanley, who will be a junior next season, ended this year as the Mountaineers’ second-leading scorer with 11.3 points per game.
Lainey Gosnell, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, scored 10.3 points per game and made 47-of-140 3-point baskets. Point guard Ashley Polacek, a junior transfer from Central Florida, averaged 10.1 points and handed out a team-high 156 assists, making her the only Mountaineer to hand out more than 100 assists during the season.
Appalachian State’s rebounding machine, Bayley Plummer, returns for her senior season. Plummer pulled down 463 rebounds during the season, including 22 against North Texas.
In the four-game tournament, Plummer averaged 19 rebounds per game.
“It was an unbelievable ride,” Elderkin said. “They bought into a vision and (April 3) we celebrate it.”