BISON WOMEN EYEING MOVE UP PAC STANDINGS THIS SEASON
Nov. 16 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After finishing last season with only seven wins and eight healthy players, the Bethany women’s basketball team brings a larger roster and renewed confidence into the 2010-11 season, which tipped off with a 65-54 victory over Carnegie Mellon on Nov. 15.
The Bison’s 7-19 record last winter is somewhat deceiving, as it did not show how competitive the team was from the beginning of the year to the end. Ten of the team’s losses came by eight points or less, including a 78-71 overtime setback to now four-time PAC champion Thomas More and a 66-65 defeat in the closing seconds to nationally-ranked Washington & Jefferson in the PAC Tournament quarterfinals.
A major hindrance to BC’s efforts last year was a depleted roster due to injuries, as the team was down to just eight players by the end of the campaign. Seven of those players return this year and with seven newcomers to the program, seventh-year head coach Rebecca Upton will have much more depth on her bench this season.
Headlining the returning players is junior point guard Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs), a Second Team All-PAC selection last year after she led the team in scoring (10.7), three-point shooting (40.2 percent) and steals (37). She’ll be joined in the backcourt by junior Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central), who averaged 8.4 points and a team-best 3.5 assists per contest.
The Bison are deep at the guard spot this year, as also back is sophomore Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley), who posted 9.9 points and 4.4 boards during an impressive freshman campaign. On the wing are a pair of veterans who battled injury problems a season ago. Junior Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia) was off to an impressive start, averaging 9.6 points and 7.0 rebounds while earning PAC Player of the Week honors once, but she was shelved for the final 12 games because of injuries.
However, Shepherd is back healthy this year, as is Bethany’s lone senior Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio). The 5-7 guard-forward was hurt for the first 11 games of last season, but returned to average 7.0 points and 5.1 boards in the second half of the year and she too is injury-free and looking for a big final season in Green and White. Providing depth on the wing and potentially down low this season is sophomore Carly Garneau (Beaver Creek, Ohio/Carroll). She only played in 18 games as a freshman because of injuries, but recorded 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds.
In the post, BC brings back junior Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park). She totaled 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a contest and closed out her sophomore year with a dominating performance. She nearly carried the Bison to the upset win at W&J in the conference tournament by pouring in 28 points and hauling down 14 rebounds, which was one of her five double-doubles during the year.
With the increased depth on the bench, Bethany will be able to rotate more players in and keep everyone fresh for the stretch run this season. The newcomers at the guard spots include junior transfer Kelly Zogran (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson), who averaged over 13 points a game at Penn State-Greater Allegheny last year, and freshmen Rebecca Braithwaite (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley), Kayla Mason (City, Ohio/Pauda) and Skylar Williams (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson).
A pair of versatile freshmen could see time at guard or at forward, including Rachel Benda (Bridgeport, Ohio) and Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley), although Benda is still rehabbing from a previous injury. The Bison have already been bitten by the injury bug again at another spot, as 6-2 freshman Emilee Madison (Smock, Pa./Uniontown) suffered a season-ending injury in a preseason scrimmage, but she is already working hard to come back for next season.
In the conference preseason poll, Bethany was picked to finish eighth in what is expected to be a tightly-compacted PAC race. The Bison’s non-conference schedule features two games at the W&J Classic, including one against Denison, the North Coast Athletic Conference champion last year, and John Carroll, a talented team from the Ohio Athletic Conference. The PAC schedule opens up for BC Dec. 1 with a home date against Westminster at 6 p.m.