Women’s basketball preview: Looking to build a reputation

By Lauren Ely | gargoyle@flagler.edu
Photo by Lauren Ely

The Flagler College women’s basketball team lost its home opener 59-69 on Sunday afternoon to non-conference opponent, Ave Maria. But the team is looking to break with its past and notch more wins this season.

The Saints return all but two players this season, forwards Tierra Ford and Adrienne Donelson. However, both Ford and Donelson represented a core part of the Saints starting lineup. Ford led the team in scoring, field goal percentage and steals, while Donelson led the team in rebound and defensive rebounds.

Erika Lang-Montgomery returns for her third season as head coach. This season is also the Saints third year competing in the Peach Belt Conference, one of the toughest Div. II conferences in the country. The conference includes the defending national champions and the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Clayton State. Lander is ranked No. 10, USC Aiken is ranked No. 17 and Columbus State University also received votes.

“Armstrong Atlantic has definitely been a big rival for us. We really should have had a win against Montevallo when we went to their place and Augusta State, of course, is always an easier win,” Jen Knurek, junior forward, said. “We want to go after UNC Pembroke and Francis Marion because those are teams we could beat, but we never committed to beating them last year.”

Last season the Saints struggled with the competitive schedule, finishing 6-20 overall, 3-15 in conference and sixth place in the conference’s East Division. The team collected wins against Palm Beach Atlantic, Ave Maria and conference opponents Augusta State and Armstrong Atlantic.

The Saints were voted 13th in the preseason PBC coaches poll, but are hopeful for a better finish.

“Our team goals are to make the Peach Belt Conference tournament this year. We haven’t done it in the past. We’ve actually fell really short every year,” Knurek said. “We want to just prove our name in the Peach Belt. We’ve been the doormat of it pretty much every year we’ve been in it. We really just want to come out and surprise people with what we can do and change the reputation of Flagler women’s basketball.”

The Saints return senior guard, Charlsea Owen, who is the team’s returning leader in 3-point shots made (36), scoring (9 ppg) and assists (75), junior, Arianna Roper and sophomore, Ebonee Bell, round up the Saints returning backcourt. Knurek and junior center Rachel Brown will lead the frontcourt along with sophomore forward Shelbi Lindsey. Lindsey received solid experience last season and will serve as a threat to the opposing defense. She had a strong start on Sunday scoring 23 points in the loss against Ave Maria.

The Saints also welcome five new players: center Treva Mason, guard Latesha Johnson, guard Rodnecia Brown, guard Anbreval Stewart and guard Taye’Lor Trotter.

“Starting this season coach has really emphasized commitment — going 100 percent 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you have those selective participants, and it takes leadership to correct those people. With commitment and accountability, you really can’t go wrong on a team,” Knurek said.

The Saints will travel to Savannah this weekend to compete in the Wingate by Wyndham Lady Pirate Classic against Anderson and Young Harris. The Peach Belt Conference portion of the season begins Dec. 3 when Flagler goes back to Savannah to take on Armstrong Atlantic.

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