Gonnella Glad to Be Back Home

Nov. 27, 2006

Senior Leah Gonnella is no stranger to the Spokane area, and area basketball fans are no stranger to her.

"I loved it at Mead High School," said the 2003 Panther graduate. "It was a fun four years on varsity."

She began her collegiate career far from home at the University of Toledo in Ohio, but transferred to Eastern Washington and, last year, averaged 5.6 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Eagles.

"It was a great experience to see that part of the country," said Gonnella. "I played against schools like Mississippi State and Florida."

The University of Toledo women's basketball team averaged 3,000 fans a game, and the men's team averaged 5,000.

"It's really a different world over there," said Gonnella of Ohio.

Now, Gonnella is back near her high school stomping grounds making an impact in the Big Sky Conference. She and guard Joanna Chadd are the only two seniors on a young Eagle squad that got off to its best start in over 22 years with three straight victories to start off the season.

"I just want to have a fun, stress-free year and try to lead the team the best I can with Jo," said Gonnella.

Gonnella shined in EWU's 96-57 victory over Corban College on Nov. 17, scoring 15 points and snagging six rebounds.

"It's the hardest working team I've ever been on," said Gonnella.

That hard work showed when the Eagles took on the University of Washington on Nov. 21. The Huskies started the season nationally ranked, but struggled against EWU and barely escaped Reese Court with the 67-59 victory.

"It was a fun game," said Gonnella. "I think we did a good job playing against a nationally-ranked team."

And while the Eagles may be soaring on the court, Gonnella also gets comfort off the court by having her family come and watch her for EWU home games.

"I'm glad that my family can come to games," said Gonnella. "That's the main reason I came back."

She'll have to make a slight adjustment, however, to her position on the court. Gonnella is moving from her traditional point guard spot to shooting guard.

"It's a little bit of a change, but I like to shoot the ball," said Gonnella.

And with the way she's been performing, the EWU women's basketball team likes her shooting the ball, as well.

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