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Cocchiarella signs first recruits

UMW News Bureau

Four student athletes (three from Montana and one from Nevada) have signed Frontier Conference/NAIA letters of intent to play basketball at the University of Montana Western, new women’s head coach Cara Cocchiarella announced. By Wally Feldt Four student athletes have signed Frontier Conference/NAIA letters of intent to play basketball at the University of Montana Western, new women’s head coach Cara Cocchiarella announced. bartaKassie Barta is a  5-foot-8-inch forward from Fairfield, Mont. She will graduate this spring from Fairfield High School. Barta averaged 13 points per game, six rebounds and shot 41 percent from the field her senior year. She played on two state championship teams, earned all-state honors her senior year and all-conference honors her junior and senior years. During high school, Barta also participated in volleyball, pep club, Spanish club and the Teen Tobacco Coalition. “Kassie is a good student and comes from a great program,” Cocchiarella said. “She is a good athlete with great length.  Her shooting ability and competitiveness will fit well into our program here at Montana Western.” Barta is the daughter of Bruce and Karen Barta. She was selected to the honor role all four years of high school and maintained a 3.0 grade point average at Fairfield High School. She plans to major in biology at Montana Western. grahamMelanie Graham  is a 5-foot-4-inch point guard form Philipsburg, Mont. She will graduate from Granite High School this spring where she earned all-state, all-conference and academic all-state honors. She lead her conference in scoring her junior and senior years, and averaged 17 points per game and four rebounds per game her senior year. Graham also participated in volleyball, cross country and track in high school. She earned all-state and all-conference honors in volleyball. Graham was a student council member and was took part in the Montana Behavioral Initiative. “Melanie played a huge role on her high school team as point guard and leading scorer,” Cocchiarella said. “Her quickness and experience playing the point will be an asset to our program. Melanie is yet another Montana Western recruit who has experienced great success in the classroom.” Graham is the daughter of Ron and Linda Graham. She maintained a 3.3 grade point average in high school and plans to major in health and human performance at Montana Western. Morgen Thacker is a 5-foot-6-inch, point guard form Winnemucca, Nev. She will graduate from Lowry High School on the spring. Thacker made all-conference all four years of high school and all-state her junior and senior years. Thacker averaged 14 points per game  five rebounds per game, and shot 58 percent form the field her senior year. She also participated in volleyball and track. She was active in the math and science club and was in the letterman’s club.  Lowry High was the Nevada State Academic Champions in 2008 and 2009. “Morgen is a recruit who excelled as a student while helping to lead a very successful high school program,” Cocchiarella said. “She is a very strong player who can play multiple guard spots, is aggressive and has a great shot.” Thacker is the daughter of Shane and Bobbi Thacker. She maintained a 3.5 grade point average in high school and plans to major in elementary education at Montana Western. roxyRoxy Thurman is a 5-foot-9-inch point guard from Bigfork, Mont. She will graduate this spring from Bigfork High School. In her senior season, Thurman averaged 14 points per game, five rebounds, four steals and two assists per game. She earned all-conference and all-state honors in basketball. Thurman set two new single season school records this past season. She set the record for steals (101) and scoring (346). “Roxy is a combo guard with good size and quickness,” Cocchiarella said. “She was a multi-sport star in high school who helped lead her basketball team to three straight state tournament appearances. Roxy’s competitiveness will help her be an impact player here at Montana Western.” Thurman also participated in volleyball where she earned all-conference and all-state honors, played tennis and ran track. She is the daughter of Troy and Debbie Thurman.