CF.C's 2014 Sportspersons of the Year

THEIR IMPACT has been so far reaching that we not only had to change the name of our annual award to be gender neutral, but to be plural rather than singular. And so it is that our 2014 CF.C Sportspersons of the Year are Tia and Lia. Or Lia and Tia. Either way, Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira are a dynamic duo that has changed everything you thought you knew about women’s basketball at WSU.

Their selection by the CF.C brain trust was not unanimous. Record-setting wide receiver Vince Mayle and record-shattering quarterback Connor Halliday attracted serious attention.

The work of Presley and Galdeira, however, has been transformative, making them not just worthy successors to Deone Bucannon as our “man” of the year, but potentially two of the most impactful athletes in WSU history.

Presley, a senior from Spokane, and Galdeira, a junior from Hawaii’s big island, have put an exclamation point on June Daugherty’s tireless effort to turn the Cougar women’s basketball program from a decades-long laughing stock into bona fide contender.

This past March the CouGals earned a post-season berth for the first time in three decades. They defeated No. 10 Nebraska, long-time nemesis Washington twice, and advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tourney. And this season they’ve already defeated two top 25 teams and are on the verge, with a 9-2 record, of breaking into that club themselves.

“Both have been instrumental in the rise of Washington State women’s basketball to a national level,” Daugherty told CF.C last week. “Their leadership on and off the court, their dedication and their outstanding play makes them one of the most outstanding duos in the country.”

And it’s not just what they’re doing, but how they’re doing it — with offensive fireworks at one end and a boatload of steals at the other. High marks for style points cannot be underestimated on the Palouse when you consider that honorable mention All-American Jenni Ruff last suited up in 1996.

This past spring Presley and Galdeira each were named first-team All-Pac-12, marking the first time two Cougar women had been so honored at the same time.

Presley averaged 19 points per game — the fifth-highest in the conference and the third-highest single-season average in WSU history. Galdeira, meanwhile, averaged 18.5 points a game, seventh in the Pac-12 and sixth-most in WSU history.

Both also placed in the top 10 in the conference for thievery — Galderia No. 2 with 80 steals and Presley No. 8 with 56.

Through 11 games this season, they are building on the trend line. Galdeira has 39 steals and is averaging 19.1 ppg while Presley has 19 steals and is averaging 18.6 ppg. If the pace continues, they will finish Nos. 1 and 2 on WSU’s career scoring list.

Like Laurel & Hardy, peanut butter and jelly, and other great combos, it’s hard to imagine one without the other. That’s why our panel of judges opted to consider them as one entity rather than two separate players for our annual award.

Be it Tia and Lia or Lia and Tia, they are are breaking the mold in Cougar athletics. And they are the 2014 CF.C Sportspersons of the Year.

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