L-C State’s Niebergall calls it a career

LEWISON, Idaho — Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball starting point guard Brittaney Niebergall will not return for her senior season because of health reasons, Warrior head coach Brian Orr announced on Thursday.

The junior from Portland, Ore., whose sophomore season was cut short by a knee injury and plantar fasciitis, was the only Warrior to play in all 33 of the team’s games in 2013-14. She did this, however, while suffering from persistent pain and discomfort in her feet.

“Brittaney made a very difficult and mature decision,” said Orr. “When you look at the record book it reveals the tremendous impact she had on our program in what was basically a two-year career. But what the statistics will never show is the heart and competitive spirit she played with each and every possession.”

Her decision to retire from the sport comes on the recommendation of her doctors who told her there was only a 40 percent chance she’d be able to play this past season. Niebergall had surgery in an attempt to address her plantar fasciitis last March.

“It was basically an everyday thing,” Niebergall said of the pain. “And that’s kind of how the decision came about. It’s an everyday thing that can’t get better unless you don’t (play). After the surgery it was a lot better, but it keeps wearing down. It’s a constant feeling, so it was kind of a lifetime decision.”

Niebergall, who earned Frontier Conference Freshman of the Year honors in her debut season, was an integral part of the team’s 27-6 run and second round finish at the NAIA National Tournament this year. She was second on the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) and led in in assists (4.7) and steals (2.9). Nationally, she ranked fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9), sixth in total steals (95), eighth in steals per game, and ninth in total assists (155).

“As the year went on I thought this could be my last year, and that was kind of always in the back of my mind, but I wanted to see how it all played out,” said Niebergall. “And as the season went on and the feet started to act up it kind of became an everyday thing, and it just became almost too much. It kind of made the decision for me.”

After 78 career games with the Warriors, the LaSalle High School product finds herself in the upper tier in many of the program’s all-time statistical categories. Niebergall finishes with 337 assists (11th), 269 free throws made (11th), 218 steals (12th), and 82 three-pointers made (16th).

This season she made 143 free throws which stands as the second highest total ever. She also set single-game marks with 36 points (seventh most) on Nov. 22 and 10 steals (second) on Nov. 5.

“I honestly feel so blessed to have been involved in this program for as long as I possibly could have. And I truly mean that,” Niebergall said. “I’m so grateful. I wish every college athlete could have the experience that I’ve had.”

Niebergall, who was tabbed with all-conference second-team honors this season and also was recently named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, will graduate with a degree in Elementary Education this fall. She is currently student-teaching at Whitman Elementary School in Lewiston.

“I want to thank everyone. My teammates, the coaches, the community, the trainers,” said Niebergall. “I thank everybody for supporting not only me, but the whole team and making it a great experience.”

— Lewis-Clark State Sports Information