The Shepherd University women’s basketball team is preparing to tip off their 2012-13 season on Friday, Nov. 16 when they travel to Belmont, Calif., to face Pacific Union. The Rams have been picked to finish 6th out of 15 teams in the 2012-13 WVIAC Women’s basketball preseason poll of conference coaches.
After receiving a total of 11 first place ballots and total points in the poll, the Fairmont State Falcons, 18-10 last season, were selected as the preseason favorites to win the WVIAC Championship this year.
Defending conference champion West Virginia Wesleyan, 24-7 last season, was ranked 5th in the poll with 152 points. However, the Shepherd Rams are looking to improve on the 20-11 overall record from last season and put themselves in the conversation for the last WVIAC Conference Championship.
The completion of this season will mark the end for the WVIAC. At the start of the 2013-14 academic year, all Shepherd athletic programs will join the new Mountain East collegiate athletic conference.
The Rams made an impressive postseason run last year with dominating wins in the first two rounds over Bluefield State and Fairmont State before falling to the eventual champions, West Virginia Wesleyan, in the semi-final round.
Many players who were essential to that roster are returning for this season, along with some key additions made during the offseason. The team’s leading scorer from last year and second-team all-WVIAC selection Emily Daniel (12.4 ppg) and WVIAC All Freshman team member Gabby Flinchum (8.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) will be central to the team’s success this year.
In addition, during the offseason, head women’s basketball coach Melaine Ford announced that six student athletes signed letters of intent to play for the Rams in the 2012-13 campaign.
Sammy Bane of Chantilly, Va., is a 5-foot-4 guard who gained All-State honors at the Middleburg Academy. Hailey Brown of Annandale, Va., is a 6-foot forward who was a four year letter winner at Annandale High. Cara Mason of Monrovia, Md., is a 5-foot-8 guard who was a four year letter winner at Urbana High.
Kristina Prange of Gaithersburg, Md., is a 6-foot-1 center who was a multi-letter recipient in basketball at Damascus and was named to The Washington Post’s All-League Team. Molly Rohlfing is a 5-foot-8 guard from Wilmington, N.C., who was a four year starter in basketball at Wilmington Christian Academy. Finally, Jazmin Tolson is a 5-foot-6 guard from Frederick, Md., who lettered in basketball and track at Frederick High. She also helped lead her team to the 2011 State Championships for basketball.
About her new additions to the team, head coach Melanie Ford said, “We have a variety of talent and personality in our six recruits. From outside shooters to physical defenders, we believe these new players will use their strengths to compliment and push our returners.”
She went on to say, “To become a championship team, we must have a strong work ethic and discipline.”
The Shepherd University women’s basketball team will play their first three games on the road. However, their first game at home will be Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. when they face the University of Charleston.