WARREN, Pa. – Warren standout basketball player Emma Ruhlman announced Monday that she will continue her athletic career at NCAA Division II Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich.
“I am beyond blessed and excited to announce I have committed to Hillsdale College,” Ruhlman wrote in a social media post. “Go Chargers!”
Ruhlman is coming off a fantastic junior season that saw her average 14.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game while leading the Lady Dragons to a 22-4 overall record and the District 10 Class 5A title. Her three free throws with no time on the clock and her team down two in the title game against Slippery Rock sealed the championship.
For her efforts, Ruhlman, who has 1,044 career points, was named the D9and10Sports.com District 10 Girls’ Player of the Year.
“I would like to thank my parents,” Ruhlman said. “My dad for sacrificing his time with me so I could travel all over to play and get seen.
“I want to give my biggest thanks to my mom, but she is my coach, too, and the relationship we have built because of basketball is something I value so much. I am so grateful for all the sacrifices she made to get me to where I am at.”
Ruhlman’s mom, Warren head coach Lisa LaVan, said the process for Ruhlman was a long one.
“In the end, academics ended up being a really big deal for her,” LaVan said. “Hillsdale ended up being a perfect fit both academically and basketball-wise.”
Hillsdale assistant coach Brianna Brennan, who was key to the recruiting of Ruhlman, has Northwestern Pennsylvania ties having played both basketball and volleyball at Gannon helping the Golden Knights to two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances in basketball and two in volleyball, including Gannon’s first-ever NCAA Division II Final Four appearance in volleyball in 2017.
“(Bri) said she wanted some (Pennsylvania) kids,” LaVan said. “She watched Emma’s film, and they were interested right away.”
Hillsdale struggled during the 2020-21 season going 4-17 under first-year head coach Charlie Averkamp. That followed a 6-21 record in 2019-2020.
But the Chargers had 15 winning seasons in 19 years prior to the 2019-2020 season playing most of that time in the GLIAC. They joined the G-MAC in time for the 2017-18 season.
“We’re all very excited for Emma,” LaVan said. “Obviously, her journey has been a long one because of the car rides (to AAU events). She knew back in eighth grade she wanted to play at the next level. She worked hard to get to this point.”
Ruhlman is the fourth Warren Lady Dragon coached by LaVan to commit to an NCAA Division II institution for basketball joining DJ Hahn (California, Pa.), Margo Loutzenhiser (Gannon), and Autumn Hultberg (Mansfield).
Editor’s Note: Andy Close contributed to this story