By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – August must be a good month to turn pro. Former Phoenix post threat Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) and dominating force Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) have announced their signings with professional teams in Europe. Sension will suit up for Portugal’s GDESSA, a team based out of Barreiro near the capital city of Lisbon, while Eichler will play for Stevsngade in Denmark. The announcement comes after fellow class of 2013 teammate Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) announced her signing with England’s Nottingham Wildcats on August 1.
With three players now signed to play professionally this fall, the Green Bay women’s basketball class of 2013 has more professional players than any other class in team history, breaking the previous mark of two. The program had a pair of players turn professional from the 2007 class (Natalie Berglin and Nicole Soulis) and two from the 2009 class (Lavesa Glover and Kati Harty).
Sension and Eichler led Green Bay to a 122-12 record during their time with the program and helped the team to an NCAA Tournament berth during each of their four seasons and Horizon League Tournament Championships the last three years. More recently, the pair of forwards served as camp counselors at a camp in Minnesota hosted by Boston Celtics forward Kris Humphries.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to continue my career, and my time at Green Bay has prepared me in many ways for living and playing overseas,” Sension said. “As freshmen we’re taught by the veteran players on day one to work hard. If I can bring what everyone at Green Bay has taught me to Barreiro, it will be a great first year.”
As a redshirt senior during the 2012-13 campaign, Sension had the best season of her career while starting all 33 contests. She averaged 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53.0 percent from the floor. During a contest against James Madison at the 2012 Cancun Challenge, she recorded her first career double-double with career highs in both points and rebounds with 19 and 10, respectively. She later added her second career double-double with a 12-point, 10-rebound performance in a 99-53 rout of UIC on Feb. 2.
A career 49.1 percent shooter, she finished with 723 career points while averaging 5.9 points per game. She scored in double figures in 14 of Green Bay’s 33 contests last season and showed her versatility by connecting on seven attempts from behind the arc.
Sension will long be remembered at Green Bay for making the biggest defensive play of her career as a sophomore during the Phoenix’s historic Sweet 16 run in the 2010-11 season. Trailing perennial powerhouse and top-seeded Baylor, Sension took a punishing charge from the 2013 WBNA No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner that helped swing the momentum in Green Bay’s favor and sparked a valiant comeback effort.
Following her eligibility at Green Bay, Sension and Ritchie both traveled to China in May as part of the NetScouts Team USA women’s basketball All-Star team. The tandem helped the U.S. to a 7-2 record and a tournament championship during the 15-day, three-city Chinese tour.
Sension’s future team, GDESSA, is coming off a 16-6 season that saw the squad finish fourth out of 12 teams in the Liga Feminina. Sension is excited to begin working with the team and learn more about Portuguese culture.
“I love being able to travel, so I look forward to being immersed in such an amazing culture while being able to play the game I love at the same time. I’m even trying to learn a little Portuguese before I leave,” Sension said.
Sension will head to Portugal around Sept. 22, when temperatures there still average in the mid-70s—something she can’t wait to enjoy. Until then, she’ll continue workouts and spend time with her friends and family.
Eichler graduated from Green Bay as the most experienced player to ever don a Phoenix jersey. One of the toughest players head coach Kevin Borseth has ever seen, Eichler was a four-year starter and played 133 games for Green Bay—the most by any player in team history.
A 45.5 percent shooter for her standout career, Eichler finished her time at Green Bay with 1,122 points, 382 rebounds and 320 assists. In 2012-13, she posted a career-high 114 assists with a plus-1.56 assist-to-turnover ratio. She was selected to the All-Horizon League Second Team and All-Defensive Team in 2012-13 after earning All-Newcomer Team honors as a freshman in 2009-10.
“I was very excited to receive the call from my agent about the offer, and was a little surprised that I had an offer so quickly,” Eichler said. “My mom and I did some research and agreed to the terms a couple days later.”
Following her career at Green Bay, Eichler became the third member of the 2013 graduating class to represent the U.S. on the NetScouts Team USA women’s basketball All-Star team. Averaging 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest, Eichler helped the U.S. to a 9-0 record in the four-team tournament against the national teams of China, Austrailia and Hungary.
Eichler will head to Denmark on Aug. 16 when Stevnsgade starts practice. Based in Copenhagen and competing in the 10-team Dameligaen League, the squad plays an 18-game schedule with addition trips to Germany and Sweden. She credits her time at Green Bay for preparing her to take on this new challenge.
“Green Bay was a grind for me and I think that will help me overseas because I’m hoping my attitude and love for the game is contagious with my teammates,” Eichler said. “I’m going into a situation with a young roster in a club that is looking to win the league so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also excited to live in downtown Copenhagen and see the lifestyle of the area.”
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix , @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones.
Like Green Bay Women’s Basketball and Green Bay Phoenix Athletics on Facebook.