Forward caps junior season with all-league honor

by: DAVID HANSEN / GEORGE FOX ATHLETICS - Megan Arnoldy, who graduated from Wilsonville High School in 2010, earned all-league honorable mention as a junior forward on the George Fox womens basketball team.Megan Arnoldy has become accustomed to extended postseason runs.

During her high school career, the Wilsonville girls basketball team was a regular contender at the OSAA championships. In her first two years at the collegiate level, the George Fox women’s basketball team made appearances in the NCAA tournament.

So excuse Arnoldy if the Bruins’ last campaign seemed unusual to her.

“It was a roller coaster of a season,” she said.

That’s not to say George Fox was awful. It wasn’t. It went 19-7 overall, won 12 of its 16 league games and tied for third place in the Northwest Conference.

And that’s not to say Arnoldy was subpar. She wasn’t. She averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 46% from the field, scoring in doubles figures 12 times and logging four double-doubles.

The junior forward earned all-league honorable mention, boasting top-15 marks in field-goal percentage, rebounding and scoring.

A particularly impressive week in January offered evidence of her prowess.

In the absence of post players Hannah Munger and Megan Hays, Arnoldy scored 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting while adding seven rebounds, two steals and an assist in her team’s 70-59 win over Whitworth. The following day, she scored a team-high 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and logged one steal in a 50-38 win over Whitman.

The Alaska native made 60% of her field-goal attempts and shot 90% from the foul line during the two-game stretch, earning her school’s female-athlete-of-the-week honor and also receiving recognition as the Northwest Conference student-athlete of the week in women’s basketball.

Still, something was missing from Arnoldy’s season. That’s because the Bruins fell to Lewis & Clark in the opening round of their conference tournament in February, leaving them out of the national Division III tournament.

The early exit left the daughter of Marty and June Arnoldy to reflect on her basketball career, perhaps making her even more thankful for the fact that she’s played key roles for two wildly successful programs.

Through three seasons at George Fox, she has started in 87 of the 88 games in which she’s played and shot the ball at a 48.5% clip while averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The program has gone 76-14 during that span, which includes an astounding 42-6 mark in conference play.

Not bad, huh?

“It’s been pretty incredible,” said Arnoldy, a math major who envisions a career in education. “I think I’ve been really blessed.”

‘Team of freshmen’

Arnoldy was recruited to the Newberg-based Christian school by Scott Rueck, but she never actually played for him.

Rueck, a Hillsboro native, opted to fill the vacancy at Oregon State before the beginning of Arnoldy’s freshman season.

“Scott was a big part of the reason why I initially looked at Fox,” she said. “He’s a great guy, so it was hard in that sense. I wasn’t expecting it. But it was harder for the girls who had Scott in previous years and had to switch systems. It was like having a whole team of freshmen. I didn’t know anything different, though, so it wasn’t too bad.”

Taking Rueck’s place was Michael Meek, who jumped to the collegiate ranks after guiding Beaverton-Southridge to five state titles during a six-year span beginning in 2005.

He saw talent in Arnoldy from the get-go.

“Megan is really more of a four than a five with a good outside shot, but she is a strong athlete who knows how to score down low and get rebounds,” Meek said before the 2010-11 campaign. “We will call on her a lot this season.”

The new coach wasn’t kidding. Arnoldy started all 31 games a freshman, averaging 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51% from the field.

The Bruins reached the national quarterfinals before bowing out in a one-point loss to Illinois Wesleyan.

Postseason push

With more experience the following year, Arnoldy and George Fox made a thrilling run to the NCAA title game.

They entered the tournament with a flawless record, including a 16-0 tally against league opponents. They crushed California Lutheran, eked past Lewis & Clark and topped Bowdoin in their first three games of the Big Dance.

The Bruins then handily defeated Mary Washington in the quarterfinals and upset defending champion Amherst in the semifinals to reach the title game in Holland, Mich.

“We were pretty nervous for that,” Arnoldy said of the semifinal. “The whole tournament was awesome because you get to travel a lot — most of the schools we play are in the Portland and Seattle areas.”

In the finals March 17, 2012, against Illinois Wesleyan — the team that knocked George Fox out of the tournament a year earlier — Arnoldy scored eight points in 25 minutes. But Munger went down with a knee injury early in the first half, and the Bruins couldn’t recover. They lost for the first time all season, 57-48, ending a phenomenal campaign with a 32-1 record.

“Picking up the pieces from that was hard,” Arnoldy said of Munger’s injury. “We played like every single person on our bench, and it was cool to see everybody play. Not everybody got to play in some of the league games, so that was pretty awesome. It was still so fun. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

‘Fun and memorable’

Heading into the Division III finals as a sophomore, Arnoldy already had title-game experience.

In high school, that is.

Arnoldy led Wilsonville to the Class 5A finals as a senior, scoring 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting. And even though the Wildcats fell to Portland-Jefferson, 50-40, the contest stands out in Arnoldy’s memory.

“You don’t really forget big games like that,” she said.

A four-year varsity player who also lettered in soccer, softball and track and field, Arnoldy garnered first-team all-state honors and second-team all-tournament recognition in the final year of her prep career after being named the Northwest Oregon Conference player of the year.

She highlighted a roster that also included Kellie Krueger, Ashley Walters, Emily Dungey and Alyssa Clark. She credits those players and coach Cindy Anderson with propelling the Wildcats to postseason success.

“The teammates I had were really great,” she said. “The girls and Cindy made it fun and memorable.”

A final go-round

Just months away from the beginning of her final season at George Fox, Arnoldy is already thinking about what the 2013-14 campaign might look like.

It will probably involve an even bigger leadership role for Arnoldy, who was a team captain as a junior. Over the last three years, she’s improved her footwork. She’s become a smarter and more efficient offensive player.

 “I’m a stronger post player now, and I’ve tried to develop more outside capabilities as far as shooting and attack moves,” she said. “I like to lead by example, with my actions more than my words. But I’ll probably be more vocal because Hannah’s not going to be around. I’m excited for it.”

But Arnoldy doesn’t want her last year with the Bruins to be defined by personal growth alone. She wants another extended postseason run, too.

“We’ll probably try to be more of a fast-paced team and try to (beat) teams that way,” she said. “We want to get back to the national championship and have a better outcome than last time. But it’s gonna take a lot of hard work.”

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