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Minot State women add trio of transfer, six freshmen to roster for upcoming season

Sean Williams/MDN Minot’s Maya Aguilar looks for outlook to pass to in this file photo. She will play collegiate basketball locally when she laces up for Minot State University in the upcoming season.

The Minot State women’s basketball team has loaded up on talent for the upcoming season.

Working hard on the recruiting trail both during the past season and the off-season, head coach Mike Brandt and his staff are pleased to announce the addition of nine players who will join the Beavers for the 2023-24 season, four of whom signed a National Letter-of-Intent in November and five others who signed this spring.

Three of the recent commitments for the Beavers are transfers, including junior college All-American Sydney Gustavsson from Bismarck State College, former NCAA Division I player Taylor Goss from Southern Illinois Edwardsville, and star juco point guard Cassidy King from Butte College (Calif.). Both Gustavsson and King will be juniors athletically for Minot State, while Goss will be a sophomore.

Joining that trio of experienced transfers are six recent high school graduates who will be freshmen on the court and in the classroom at Minot State. The incoming freshman class includes North Dakota products in Maya Aguilar from Minot High School, Peyton Breidenbach from Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, Amya Gourneau from Turtle Mountain Community High School in Belcourt, Aubrey Griedl from Our Redeemer’s Christian School here in Minot, Ashley Wacha from Fargo Davies High School in Fargo, along with Shawna Bruha from Burnsville High School in Burnsville, Minnesota.

“For only our second recruiting class, I find it hard not to be really pumped up,” Coach Brandt said. “We have all positions covered and most of them are coming from very competitive and winning programs. These are excellent student-athletes that will represent our basketball program and university very well.

“I can’t wait to pair these recruits up with our seven returning players and watch them compete with each other,” Minot State’s coach added. “I anticipate our practices to be very intense and competitive. If we can develop great chemistry amongst them, we have a chance to be an exciting and very good basketball team.”

Here is a look at the Beavers incoming recruiting class:

Maya Aguilar, 5-foot-9 guard from Minot High School in Minot, North Dakota

A star local point guard, Aguilar helped lead the Minot HS girls to the 2021-22 Class A state championship and a fifth-place finish at the Class A state tournament this past winter as she dished out 108 assists.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “We are very excited to have a player from a state championship team, and it doesn’t get any better than when they are from a great program at Minot High School. Maya is a very versatile player; she can play multiple positions on offense as well as defend in that manner.”

Peyton Breidenbach, 5-8 guard from Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, North Dakota

A three-year starter and two-year captain for Sheyenne HS, Breidenbach signed with the Beavers in November prior to her senior season then went on to average 9.9 points and 5.2 assists per game for the Mustangs. She shot 39.7 percent from the field and 74.3 percent from the free-throw line as a senior, and also averaged 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game for Sheyenne HS, which finished third at the Class A state tournament this past winter.

Academically she also was a standout as she earned the Grooters Memorial Scholarship, the Academic Presidential Award, and lettered in academics all four years.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Peyton is a pretty calm and cool guard. She can definitely play the point position, but her outside shooting will certainly allow her to play multiple guard spots. Defense is another of her strengths as she will bring it night in and night out.”

Shawna Bruha, 5-8 guard from Burnsville High School in Burnsville, Minnesota

A shooting guard from nearby Minnesota who also signed in the fall, Bruha averaged 14.8 points per game while shooting 51 percent from 3-point range for the Blaze this past winter. Also contributing 6.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game and shooting 88 percent from the free-throw stripe, Bruha is a three-time all-conference performer.

A five-time varsity letter winner and team captain for two season for the Blaze, she also earned All-State Academic honors.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Shawna can flat-out shoot the 3. She will be using that left hand to bomb the heck out of opponents. I am sure she is going to be one of our many “Splash Sisters!” In addition to her shooting, she can do about anything offensively and defensively – she is not “just a shooter”.”

Aubrey Griedl, 6-2 center from Our Redeemer’s Christian School in Minot, North Dakota

A center who averaged a double-double her senior season for the Knights, Griedl helped lead Our Redeemer’s Christian to the District 12 Championship and a runner-up finish in Region 6 as she was named to the All-District 12 and All-Region 6 teams.

Griedl led Our Redeemer this past season in blocked shots, rebounds, and field-goal percentage, and during her time playing for the Knights is a five-time varsity letter-winner who has been named to the All-Academic Team, was named to the 2021-22 All-District 12 Team, and also led Our Redeemer’s in field-goal and free-throw percentage in 2021-22.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Aubrey is a great catch for us. She epitomizes what we look for in a student-athlete. It is great to get another local player from Minot.

“Her biggest strengths are her hands and her ability to get great positioning in the post area,” Minot State’s coach added. “She seems so eager to improve and has the potential to really have an impact in our frontcourt.”

Taylor Goss, 5-10 guard from Pekin, Illinois and a sophomore transfer from Southern Illinois Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Ill.

A transfer from NCAA Division I Southern Illinois Edwardsville where she played in five games this season after a redshirt year in 2021-22, Goss scored 8 points and grabbed 3 rebounds for the Cougars.

Prior to starting her collegiate career, Goss eclipsed 1,000 points in her high school career at Pekin Community High School and won the state’s 3-Point Showdown as a sophomore.

Goss is the daughter of former pro basketball player Caryn Brune-Goss who is a member of the Illinois State Athletic Hall-of-Fame.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Scouting reports on Taylor will definitely say, SHOOTER! Taylor was the state champion 3-point shooter in Illinois. She additionally brings much more to the equation; as a Division l transfer, her maturity on the court will add much to our program. She’s going to be a great competitor for the Beavers.”

Amya Gourneau, 5-8 guard from Turtle Mountain Community High School in Belcourt, North Dakota

Signing in November prior to her senior season, Gourneau is a two-year All-State performer who also was Valedictorian at Turtle Mountain Community High School in Belcourt. She set school records for assists in a game, a season, and her career, along with assists per game for a season, and free-throw percentage for a season, and was named the Braves’ MVP after leading the team in scoring (16.0), assists (120), rebounds (125), steals (48), and free-throw percentage this past winter.

A four-year letter-winner and two-time team captain who also was named a three-time All-Western Dakota Athletic performer, Gourneau scored 1,275 career points, grabbed 383 career rebounds, dished out 362 career assists, and made 134 career steals for the Braves.

Gourneau also was a finalist for the WDA Senior Athlete of the Year award, was named to the Honor Roll all four years, and graduated with honors.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Another standout multiple position guard, Amya will turn some heads with her play. She has great court vision, a knack to score, and a solid outside shot. When she is surrounded by some really good basketball players, her level of play will rise.”

Sydney Gustavsson, 5-7 guard from Mandan, North Dakota and a junior transfer from Bismarck State College in Bismarck, North Dakota

Named a 2nd Team NJCAA All-American this past season at Bismarck State College, Gustavsson also was named the Region XIII MVP and the Mon-Dak MVP as she averaged 20.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.3 steals per game for the Mystics and helped lead them to the NJCAA Region XIII Tournament.

She is the first NJCAA All-American at Bismarck State College since former Minot State player Amber Stevhan earned the honor for the Mystics in 2020.

In two seasons with the Mystics, Gustavsson played in 57 games and scored 863 career points while adding 323 rebounds, 143 assists, and 96 steals.

Prior to starting her collegiate career, Gustavsson was star in basketball and softball at Mandan High School and she led the Braves in scoring, rebounding, free-throw percentage, and 3-pointers made her senior season (2020-21).

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “We are so fortunate to have landed an NJCAA All-American – especially from North Dakota. I coached in the JUCO ranks and know how competitive the basketball is at that level. She is obviously a proven scorer – which we need – but if you look at her stats you will see she is a complete, all-around player. She will have an immediate impact.”

Cassidy King, 5-6 guard from Chico, California and a junior transfer from Butte College in Butte County, California

A two-time All-Golden Valley Conference performer at point guard who led the Roadrunners to back-to-back GVC titles, King averaged 4.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game as team captain this past winter.

In 56 total games in two seasons at Butte College she scored 280 points, grabbed 227 rebounds, and dished out 258 assists for the Roadrunners while leading the GVC in assist to turnover ratio both seasons.

She also was named the team’s “Most Improved Player” as a freshman and “Lady Roadrunner” this past season while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and earning College Sports Communicators District All-Academic Team honors.

A team captain at Pleasant Valley High School, King averaged 7.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists as a senior> She also competed in sprints and hurdles in track and field in high school.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “Pure point guard definitely describes Cassidy. I appreciate a point guard that values the ball, gets the ball to the shooters in scoring position, and can defend and rebound.

“Her assist to turnover ratio was off the charts last year!” Minot State’s coach added. “She comes from another strong, winning program as her junior college team went deep into the playoffs in California, finishing second in the state.”

Ashley Wacha, 5-10 guard/forward from Fargo Davies High School in Fargo, North Dakota

An all-around star student-athlete who also played two seasons of volleyball and competing in track and field for two years at Fargo Davies, Wacha averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game as a senior on the hardwood after signing with the Beavers in November.

An All-Eastern Dakota Conference performer who also was named a Lions All-Star player, Wacha earned four letters in basketball, was a team captain as a senior, helped the Eagles win three EDC Championships, was a member of Fargo Davies third-place Class A state tournament team in 2021-22, and part of the Class A state runner-up championship team in 2020-21.

A standout academically, as well, she is a member of the National Honor Society Member, a four-year academic letter winner, a former president of the Spanish Club, an All-Conference musician, and a two-year letter winner in band and pep band.

Coach Brandt’s Comments: “In describing Ashley’s game, one would have to start with being well-rounded. She does a little bit of everything and does it all well. She has a great shooting touch and is another outstanding defender that can defend many different positions. She will be able to play the guard or forward positions.”

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