When Kabri Emerson graduated from Butte High two years ago, she didn’t want any part of going to college in her home town.
She instead opted for the experience of college on the road, heading to MSU-Billings and then North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene.
Thursday, Emerson confirmed that she has signed an NAIA letter of intent to play basketball at Montana Tech. She has two years of eligibility remaining.
“I’m really excited,” said Emerson, who is heading back to the Mining City after a strong season for the Cardinals at NIC. “My family will get to see me play more. It will be a lot easier for them. Plus, I’m going to go into engineering, so there really was nowhere else to go.”
The 6-foot Emerson averaged 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this past season. She earned a spot on the All-Region 18 second team and started every game for the Cardinals, who went 28-5 and played in the NJCAA National tournament in Salina, Kan.
Emerson, who also carries a 3.9 GPA, said she played four or five minutes per game during her freshman year at MSU-B. During her sophomore season she came into her own at the junior college.
“She’s going to give us some good depth at the post position,” said Tech coach Kerie DePell, who also recruited Emerson out of high school.
DePell noted that Emerson has stepped up her game in the two years since she led Butte High to the semifinal game of the Class AA State tournament in Butte. She averaged a team-leading 12.6 points per game while earning second-team All-Conference honors that season.
“She’s definitely put herself in a good spot with her conditioning and strength,” DePell said. “I think she’s going to be really good. She’s a totally different player. She was good then. Now she’s great.”
Emerson said she’s a different player, too.
“I run the floor a lot more than I did,” she said. “This is kind of weird for a post to say, but I love the fast break. I also shot a few threes. That’s still a little out of my range in college, but I shot a few.”
DePell likes the fact that Emerson is coming from a school that was highly successful. Under coach Chris Carlson, the Cardinals won 83 games over the last three seasons.
“I’m excited about that,” DePell said. “She’s been coached really well. She comes to Tech with a good base.”
DePell and Emerson had mutual interest in each other as Emerson winded down her final season at the junior college. The coach said Emerson actually filled out an online questionnaire, and DePell quickly contacted her.
“I was happy to see she wanted to come here,” DePell said.
Emerson will be one of four local products on the team, joining Brynne Kambich and newcomers Danee Leary and Hattie Thatcher. Brooke Pokorny decided not to come back for her senior season.
After two years on the road, Emerson said the time is right for her to come home.
“I’m excited. It’s going to be fun,” Emerson said. “I miss the Butte community and the support. I miss going to the grocery story had having people say, ‘Good game. You did so good.'”