Bulletin-area natives provide 1-2 punch at Wheaton

Katie McDaniels and Ellie Zeller are the only two Minnesotans on the women’s basketball roster at Wheaton College in Illinois but they were quite the duo for the Thunder this season. They were the top two scorers on the team and raked in a number of post-season awards for their efforts.

Zeller, a 2012 St. Anthony Village High School graduate, was named first team all-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin following her superb sophomore season in which she started all 26 of the Thunder’s games. She averaged 14.8 points per game, which was second-highest on the team. She also grabbed 4.2 rebounds per contest and shot nearly 59.5 percent from the field to set a new school record. Zeller made 45 percent (18 of 40) of her three-point attempts and added 65 assists and 28 steals.

Following a slow start to the season in which she averaged 6.4 points per game through the first five games, Zeller exploded with a 22-point performance against Wisconsin-Whitewater on Nov. 30. She added another 22-point game on Jan. 4 against Millikin and that started her on a streak of nine games in which she scored in double digits.

Zeller established a new career high with 27 points on Jan. 18 against Illinois Wesleyan and did it again two games later against North Central when she scored 32.

A year ago in her freshman season, Zeller scored 7.7 points per game. Wheaton’s 2012-13 season was its best in six years as the Thunder won 20 games and reached the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time since 2007.

McDaniels made a name for herself in just her first season at Wheaton. She earned second-team all-CCIW honors and was also named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.

McDaniels, who graduated from Mounds View High School in 2013, led Wheaton in scoring (16.5 points per game), assists (111), steals (39) and free throws attempted and made (141 of 199) and the made free throw number ties Wheaton’s single-season record. She also averaged 4.7 rebounds per contest, which was third on the team.

Aside from her first game of the season, McDaniels reached double digits in points in all the rest of the games she played. She reached the 20-point plateau five times and had one stretch of three games where she averaged 26.7 points per game with point totals of 26, 26 and 28.

The first 26-point game, on Nov. 23 against St. Mary’s, turned out to be a double-double contest for McDaniels, who added 11 rebounds.

Wheaton (19-7 overall, 9-5 in the CCIW) finished third in the conference standings and lost in the first round of the conference tournament to Illinois Wesleyan.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

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