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Lady Mountaineers Ready to Dominate … Again!

Berea's Lady Mountaineer basketball team is back this year, and they're turning up the heat!

2006-2007 Women's Basketball Team

Last season, the list of accomplishments grew and grew as the team finished 26-6, and were awarded a bid in the NAIA Division II tournament. Though they came home after having lost to Aquinas in the first round, they came home with an amazing season under their belts.

Though the Lady Mounties are bringing in six freshmen players this season, they're also bringing back a crop of players who are very experienced and very formidable to opposing teams. Candy Walls, a sophomore this year, led the team last year in two-point field goal attempts, and was third overall in points. LaShondra Gray, another sophomore, was named to the all conference KIAC 2nd team last season. Sarah Hughes, sophomore, led the team in rebounds. Heidi Diep, also a sophomore, led the team in both two point shooting percentages as well as free throw shooting percentages.

Seniors this year include De-An Watkins, who led the Lady Mountaineers in steals last season. Toccara Gambrel led the team in rebounds per forty minutes, and was second overall in blocked shots. Rebecca May also returns as a senior this year, boasting leads in minutes, points, three-point shots taken and made, defensive rebounds, and blocked shots. She was also recognized as the all time Berea College leader in points scored (1,553) and three-point shots made in a career. May was also named to the all conference KIAC 1st team last season.

Though several of the returning players have a lot of recognition to their names, it's still going to be a tough season. The girls' schedule pits them against many difficult, highly-ranked teams, and the ladies have one of the toughest schedules in the country before conference play, which officially starts after the New Year's holiday. Coach Harkleroad hopes that the schedule will prepare his team for conference play in January. "We've got a stacked-deck schedule up to conference play so that come conference time they'll be stronger," Harkleroad said.

The ladies on the team are very optimistic about the upcoming season, though it won't be an easy one. "Its going to be a tough season, but I think we can handle it," predicts sophomore LaShondra Gray. "I think we could make it all the way with heart and dedication." The rest of the team echos those same sentiments. Jenna Lowe, a sophomore from Carrollton, Ky., has high expectations for the season. "We will probably start out a little shaky, because we are a young team," she said. "However, once we get into the swing of things, everything is going to start clicking and that’s when other teams have to look out. When things go right for us, we will be deadly. I definitely believe that we can take it all, as long as we keep our heads straight, pull together as a team and play at that energy level needed to bring the other team to their knees!"

So far, the competition has been no match for the Lady Mountaineers, who racked up three wins in the first week of November alone. The weekend of Nov. 3 and 4, the girls dominated the University of the Cumberlands' High 5 Classic, defeating King College on Friday 90-71. Stephanie Corry led the team with 15 points, all from behind the three-point line. Candy Walls and Sarah Hughes followed with 14 points each. In the Saturday game, Berea beat up Montreat College, a team new to the conference, by a final score of 113-98. Rebecca May shined with 24 points and 4 assists, while Candy Walls contributed 16 points and 16 rebounds.

On Nov. 6, Berea trounced Lindsey Wilson College 102-81. May ran the show with a team-high 27 points and 7 rebounds, followed by LaShondra Gray with 17 points and 5 rebounds. May and fellow senior De-An Watkins each contributed 4 assists.

The Lady Mountaineers are currently ranked at 18th in the NAIA Division II, and are 4-0 for the season after a huge win against Warren Wilson College at home on Wednesday night. The Lady Mounties played their first home game with an intensity that left the score at 59-8 at the end of the first half, then shut down the Owls 107-26.

Big games for the ladies this year include Lindsey Wilson, Warren Wilson, Milligan (Homecoming), Tennessee Temple University and the Pepsi Classic in December.

Look for the Lady Mountaineers' next home game this weekend against Milligan College for Homecoming. The ladies play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.

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