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Bray sisters hail DWU as 'best decision'

On a roster full of South Dakotans, two Minnesotans may have had the biggest impact on the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team. Amber and Ashley Bray, natives of Anoka, Minnesota, capped off their stellar collegiate careers in the ...

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Dakota Wesleyan University twin sisters Amber, left, and Ashley Bray pose for a portrait last season at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

On a roster full of South Dakotans, two Minnesotans may have had the biggest impact on the Dakota Wesleyan University women's basketball team.

Amber and Ashley Bray, natives of Anoka, Minnesota, capped off their stellar collegiate careers in the best way possible-by winning a NAIA national championship. The twin sisters were at the heart of DWU's program turnaround from a 14-17 record after their freshman season to the school's first team championship. Both received All-American recognition, with Ashley earning first team honors and Amber receiving honorable mention.

The twins were two of DWU's most consistent players on the roster, starting for the Tigers for three straight seasons. Despite gaining plenty of attention from opposing coaches throughout their careers, both finished in the top 15 in DWU's all-time scoring list. Ashley finished fourth all-time with 1,689 points, while Amber was 14th with 1,286 points.

Both Amber and Ashley reflected on their decision to attend DWU after their last game as Tigers-an 82-59 victory over Concordia in the national championship game.

Amber said both she and her sister wanted to continue to play with each other in college and DWU was one of the few schools that offered them a chance to play together.

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"I was hesitant at first with it being a small school, but I'm really happy with my decision. It's probably the best decision of my life," said Amber, who finished the season averaging 14 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game.

Ashley added DWU's athletic training program helped them prepare for physical therapy school and played a big role in the recruiting process. Both Amber and Ashley have been accepted to physical therapy schools for next year.

"It felt like the perfect fit," Ashley said. "Everything I've been through has only made me stronger. I wouldn't change it for the world."

Ashley said her high school team with Amber made the state tournament three years in a row, but never won a state title. That made the twins' desire for a national championship even stronger.

"Going off to college, the dream was to win a national title," said Ashley, who received numerous NCAA Division II offers. "It's the best feeling in the world that I can still (play basketball) with her."

Not many players get to win a national title, even fewer get to do it with their sister.

"I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else by my side," Amber said. "I'm glad I get to experience it with her."

DWU head coach Jason Christensen joked many Great Plains Athletic Conference opponents are happy to finally see the Bray sisters' careers end. Christensen has praised the Brays as competitors on the court and leaders off the court. Curt Hart, DWU's former athletic director and now assistant AD, reflected on the Brays' recruiting process.

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"A lot of our recruits come to Mitchell, see what kind of fans we have and how much the town follows and supports the team," Hart said while watching Ashley cut down the nets after the title game. "They just fall in love with the place. If we can get them in the door for that first semester, we can usually keep them."

Amber echoed Hart's thoughts on DWU and the Mitchell community.

"Mitchell has been such a good support system," Amber said. "The Corn Crib Crazies, the attendance just in general for every game was the sixth man. I'm glad we could bring it home for them."

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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