Women's Basketball | 08/06/2009

Amirkhanyan, Chavez find 4-year homes

Lady Matadors' basketball mainstays head to Georgia, Texas

Yuma, Arizona August 7, 2009 Arizona Western College is proud to announce that two members of the AWC Women's Basketball team have signed official letters of intent to attend 4-year schools and play basketball for the schools this fall. Forward Arpine Amirkhanyan (ahr-PEE-nay AH-muhr-HAHN-nyuhn) has signed with Armstrong Atlantic State University, an NCAA Division II school in Savannah, Georgia, while point guard Andrea Chavez will head to Odessa, Texas, to attend fellow NCAA DII school University of Texas at the Permian Basin. The announcements come just a few days before both ladies will head to their respective schools to attend fall classes.

While it is an exciting time for both student-athletes to find places to continue their athletic and academic careers, it is still a bit bittersweet, since it will be the first time in several years that the two close friends will not be teammates at the same school. The two players both grew up in the Los Angeles area and were high school basketball stars together, leading the Lady Lancers of Grant High School in Van Nuys, California, deep into the CIF Playoffs as seniors. They were great compliments to each other's game, which is why they both earned Most Valuable Player Awards in their conference during their high school days. They hoped to keep making each other better as they both signed with Patrick Cunningham's Lady Matadors' squad in the summer of 2007. Joining a squad that featured mostly fellow freshmen meant that the two players would have to work hard to find a niche in the Matadors' system, and both had their ups and downs in their first year of college ball. By the end of the season, though, Chavez had entrenched herself as the team's starter at point guard, dishing out 67 assists (2nd-most on the team) and averaging nearly 8 points a game; while Amirkhanyan had become the team's first choice off the bench, playing in all 28 games, and averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds in 12 minutes per contest.

When the sophomore season dawned, Cunningham had seen enough leadership skills from both to put the two into the 2008-09 starting lineup, and they didn't disappoint Cunningham or Matador fans with their play. They each started a team-high 29 games, and were two of only three Lady Matadors to play in all 32 contests. Amirkhanyan became the team's fiercest competitor in the paint, combining with Katrina Johnson to provide a strong 1-2 punch in the middle. 'Arpi' was the team's 3rd-leading scorer in 2008-09, scoring 9.6 points per contest, while ripping down 6.6 boards per game (9th ACCAC). Meanwhile, Chavez was one of the team's most consistent backcourt performers, leading the team in free throw shooting (82%) and tied for the team lead in 3-pointers made (26). 'Dre' was also 2nd on the team in both assists (2 per game) and steals (1.2 per contest). They were two of the main reasons that the Lady Matadors reached their first Region I Championship Game in 6 years, and have set a high bar for those who follow them. Their work ethic was the main thing we saw when we recruited both out of high school, and they continued that strong work ethic over the two years at AWC," remarked Cunningham. "They both had to overcome size disadvantages at their positions, but overcame them well, and those two schools recognized the same kind of dedication in them that we saw. They are both very deserving of the scholarships they earned, and they'll definitely contribute to the programs that they're now in-on and off the floor." Amirkhanyan will not only take her accolades on the court with her to AASU, but also an NJCAA Academic All-American selection that she received just days ago for her 3.72 cumulative 2-year grade point average.

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