The Wabash Valley College women’s basketball team has won back to back Great Rivers Athletic Conference championships. But, the Lady Warriors, 22-10 a year ago, fell short both times in their bid to also win the Region 24 title and advance to the NJCAA tournament. It is that sense of unfinished business that will carry this year’s team, according to coach Zach Loll. “I would like for us to be good in late February and in to March, and try to win that elusive region championship,” he said.
The bulk of last year’s inside attack returns. But, with an out court dominated by newcomers, getting the ball inside was problematic early in the pre-season. Loll has since noted a change as the Lady Warriors near Tuesday night’s season opener against Jefferson College, Mo.
“I think we have quality guards, but transitioning from high school to college is a change,” Loll said. “But in the last week our passing has gotten much better as a team. We’ve really put an emphasis on trying to make better passes and get people the ball where they can score.”
The Lady Warriors solid 1-2 inside punch returns in sophomore Misha Jones (6-foot-4) and Teeuntra Moore (6-foot-2). But, Moore’s younger sister, 6-foot-2 freshman Adriana, will be a force to be reckoned with as well.
“If they can finish around the basket and rebound, there are not many teams who can match up with them,” Loll said.
Giorgia Stringer, a 6-foot Evansville North product who transferred from Tarlton State, is “fundamentally sound and shoots the ball well, according to Loll.
Brittany Anderson, 6-foot, also returns, and has impressed Loll. “She has been really focused, and has stepped up her game,” he said. She will be used primarily as a guard, where her size alone could cause matchup problems.
Six freshmen are competing for guard time, including Evansville North products Demetria Snaden and Rashawnda Shamell, Princeton’s D’Nell Greenwell, along with Brittnay Dozier of Cincinnati, LaVada Roberson of Jeffersonville and Keana Berkhalter of Milwaukee.
The talent on hand allows the Lady Warriors to be extremely flexible, and present different looks. “If people want to play us small and be quick, we can go with four guards than even Anderson or Stringer at the post.” Loll said. “Or if they want to go big, we’ve got the people (like Jones and Moore) who can grind it out.”
Also back is 5-foot-10 Maya Houston, who offers help on the wing, along with sophomores LaShya Rupert and La’Shawnda Thomas, and 6-foot freshman Andrea Scott.
Loll is also impressed with his team’s work ethic, off the court as well. “We’ve been taking care of the little things, like being on time, doing things I’ve asked to get done, getting to class, and our grade checks have been good,” he said. “It shows they’re buying in, they understand it’s more than just basketball.”
In the GRAC race, Loll said Southwestern Illinois, with returning all-American Janelle Cannon (who has already committed to Louisville) will be a contender, along with Olney. Loll expects much improvement out of John A. Logan as well. “
This year, Region 24 will send two teams to the NJCAA tournament in Salina, Kan., both the champion and runner up in the region tourney.