Thursday Oct. 29, 2009
AUGUSTA, GA -- For the second time in three years, the Clayton State Lakers have been selected as the women’s basketball preseason favorite in a poll of the league’s head coaches released today. Clayton State received seven of a possible 12 first-place votes, just edging out defending PBC Champions Francis Marion. Lander was third followed by a tie between GCSU and Columbus State for fourth.
Clayton State made history in 2008-09 as the first Peach Belt Conference team to make a second trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. The Lakers reached the national finals in 2007 - ironically the same year they were selected the preseason favorite in the PBC - and returned last season after compiling a 26-7 overall record. The Lakers return two starters and five letterwinners from last year including senior guard Lesheria Stevens.
Francis Marion claimed their second consecutive PBC Championship in 2008-09 and reached the final of the NCAA Southeast Regional. The nation’s top-scoring team for the past two seasons, FMU welcomes back five letterwinners and four starters from last season’s 27-5 squad including All-Conference forward Shannon Singleton-Bates.
Lander won their second consecutive PBC Tournament Championship in 2009 as the #5 seed, beating the 4th, 3rd and #1 seeds in the process. The Bearcats finished the season 20-11 and bring back 11 players from that team including Shannon McKever and Tasheba Butler, who were named second-team All-PBC in 2009.
Columbus State welcomes new head coach Jonathan Norton and bring back Phebe Smith, the reigning PBC Player of the Year, who led the league in scoring and rebounding last season. GCSU brings back All-Conference senior Shandrea Moore and Dominique Huffin, who was the 2008 PBC Freshman of the Year.
The Peach Belt Conference will undergo several changes for the 2009-10 season, the foremost of which is a return to division play. With the additions of Flagler College and the University of Montevallo, the PBC will be split into east and west divisions. In the east will be Augusta State, USC Aiken, Lander, Flagler, Armstrong Atlantic, Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke while the west will have Montevallo, Columbus State, Georgia Southwestern, GCSU, Clayton State and North Georgia.
The PBC regular season begins Nov. 15 and continues through the 2010 PBC Tournament. The tournament format has changed with only the top four teams in each division advancing to a first-round game on the campus of the higher seed. The final four will then convene in Aiken, S.C., March 6-7, 2010.