Thursday, October 31, 2013
AUGUSTA, GA – For the third year in a row, the Clayton State Lakers have been selected as the women’s basketball preseason favorite in a poll of the league’s head coaches released on Thursday. The Lakers received 12 of a possible 13 first-place votes in the coaches poll to finish with 168 points, 15 ahead of second-place North Georgia. Flagler finished third in the voting with USC Aiken fourth, Columbus State fifth and Montevallo sixth. GRU Augusta, Young Harris, Lander, Georgia College, UNC Pembroke, Armstrong, Francis Marion and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
The Lakers are coming off a near perfect 2012-13 season, finishing the year with a 32-1 mark. Clayton State dropped its only game of last season in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, two wins from the national championship game. The Lakers closed the regular season ranked #1 in the country and finished the season ranked 5th in the nation. Along with finishing last season ranked in the top-5, the 2012-13 team captured the Peach Belt Conference regular season title with a perfect 19-0 record, its third straight conference title and sixth in the last nine years. The program is an incredible 52-1 in PBC regular season games over the last three seasons. The Lakers won the 2013 Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship; its fourth title in nine years. Clayton State has already been ranked #3 in the nation in the WBCA preseason poll.
North Georgia reached the PBC Tournament championship game for the first time in school history in 2012-13. The newly rebranded Nighthawks won 10 conference games last season, the most since going 19-1 back in 2005-06, their first year as a part of the Peach Belt. North Georgia won five of their final six contests of the year and return nearly the entire squad for 2013-14. Leading the way are senior forwards Jaymee Carnes and Mimi Hill. Carnes was the PBC Player of the Year as a sophomore and ranked in the PBC’s top five in scoring, rebounding and blocks while Hill averaged 14.1 ppg and was in the league’s top 10 in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage.
Flagler College also had their best season yet as a part of the Peach Belt Conference, going 15-13 overall, 10-9 in league play and reaching the semifinals of the PBC Tournament for the first time ever. The Saints return four starters from last year’s team including Willesha ‘Shorty’ Spencer, who was named first-team All-Conference and PBC preseason All-Conference yesterday. Seniors Christina Brown and Shelbi Lindsey also return along with junior center Treva Mason. In all, the Saints return five of their top six scorers.
USC Aiken was ranked #25 in the WBCA preseason poll after coming off a 22-8 year and a berth in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The squad returns four letterwinners from a season ago and has a talented group of newcomers, including three transfers and four rookies, alongside one student-athlete that redshirted a season ago. Among the returners is senior forward Porsha Martin who was third on the team in scoring last year with 9.5 ppg.