Four to join UCCS for 2009-10 season

By Doug Fitzgerald published June 2, 2009

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women's basketball coach Stephen Kirkham announced the first recruiting class of his second Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference coaching stint with the addition of four players. Joining the Mountain Lions for the 2009-10 season will be freshmen Lauren Wolfinger (Silver Creek HS) and Katie Crump (Mullen HS) plus transfers Alyse Bessert (Fort Hays State) and Michelle Lighthall (Western Nebraska CC).

While this will be Kirkham's first season guiding the Mountain Lions, he is no stranger to the RMAC. As coach of the Mesa State Mavericks, Kirkham accumulated a record of 299-157 and four RMAC championships. His teams were ranked in the national Top 25 five times and his record in conference play over that period was 175-69. Including stints as a coach at the high school and junior college levels, Kirkham's career record is 432-233.

Crump, Bessert and Lighthall are all 6-foot or taller, giving UCCS six players who are at least 5-11.

"It will be exciting to be able to run a solid system that includes size all along the front line," said Kirkham. "This recruiting class solidifies depth at all positions and when combined with our returners gives us many options in lineups."

Wolfinger is a 5-6 combo guard with a high basketball IQ that Kirkham will want to develop into a floor leader. As a senior at Silver Creek High School, she averaged 19.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 4.1 steals per game. She made 32.5 percent of her 121 3-point attempts and also made 77.9 percent of her free throw attempts.

Crump, a 6-0 post, started four years for Mullen High School and helped the Mustangs to a 23-5 record and a berth in the Class 4A championship game as a senior. Kirkham likes Crump's physical play, ability to run the floor and solid footwork around the basket. He also says she has an excellent shooting touch out to 15 feet.

Bessert joins the Mountain Lions after two seasons and Fort Hays State. The 6-2 post averaged 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 8.5 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Tigers. As a senior at Fort Collins High School in 2006-07, Bessert averaged 14 points and eight rebounds while being an all-state selection. The daughter of former Rocky Mountain High School girl's basketball coach Barry Bessert, Elyse Bessert shares her father's high basketball IQ as well as the abilty to both post up or step out and shoot the 3-pointer.

Lighthall was a star at Manitou Springs High School before her two seasons at Western Nebraska CC. As a sophomore at WNCC, Lighthall averaged 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Kirkham likes her rebounding and defense as well as her low-post offense.

When Kirkham retired following the 2003-04 season to become the athletic director at UCCS, Kirkham was the winningest women's basketball coach in RMAC history and his 2001-02 Mavericks were the only RMAC team to ever earn the honor of hosting a regional tournament. His graduation rate for seniors was a perfect 100 percent.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Alyse BessertAlyse Bessert44CJr.
Alyse BessertAlyse Bessert44CSr.
Michelle LighthallMichelle LighthallCJr.
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