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Women’s Basketball: Season Preview

The Clearwater Christian College women’s basketball team will kick off their season with an exhibition match against the Alumni team on November 8. Their first regular season game will put them against the Tigers of Trinity College on November 11.

Last year, the Lady Cougars ended their season with a 10-16 record after losing to Southeastern University during the regional tournament. Since then, the Cougars lost three key starters—Kristen Hallice, Brianna Burns, and Bethany Williams—to graduation.

Dean Williams, who is starting his fourth year as the head coach for the women’s team at CCC, has coached basketball for a total of 20 years. He will be assisted by Matt Kellogg, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Clearwater, who has been with the team since 2001.

According to Coach Williams, the biggest thing the ladies need to work on coming out of last year is working together to play tougher team defense. This year’s team, consisting of 7 returners and 6 newcomers, will have an increased depth. “Everyone on the roster will be able to contribute” said Williams.

Alyssa Hallice, a junior from Gardendale, Alabama, started last year for the Cougars. She was named to the 2nd Team All-Region. Alyssa led the nation in blocked shots last year with 4 per game. She was also in the top 5 in Field Goal Percentage, shooting over 54% from the field.

Anna Lufkin is the other returning starter from last year, and Coach Williams expects her to be an even bigger contributor this year than she was last. Anna is a sophomore from Maine.

Lauren Leabhart joined the Cougars last year after Christmas, and she quickly added depth, outside shooting, and big play inside to the lineup. She is expected to do the same this year—provide an inside presence and hit a few big shots. Lauren is from Maryland, and she is a sophomore this year.

Senior Laura Banks of Ocala, Florida, also plays volleyball at CCC. Last year on the basketball court, she scored 7 points per game and was one of the team’s top rebounders.

Abigail Hancock was one of the Cougars’ big outside threats last year, and Coach plans to play her inside this year as well. She is a senior psychology major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Jen Ramos, a senior from Hawaii, is “one of the quickest players on the team,” said Coach Williams. She will lead from the point guard position this year and provide some great pressure on defense.

Niki Rougier of Jacksonville, Florida, is a great shooter, and Coach expects her to knock down some big threes this year. She is a sophomore studying biology.

According to Coach Williams, sophomore Kelly Fichtner is this year’s top newcomer. She is a transfer from Tennessee Temple University, but she is originally from Pompano Beach, Florida. Williams added, “She’s solid in all parts of the game, and she is blending in very well so far. She will see a lot of playing time.”

Another big newcomer is sophomore Samantha Monroe of Minneapolis, Minnesota. “She is a great point guard and can really see the floor well” Williams said. “She will be one of the triggers on offense for the Cougars.”

Erinn Troyer, a new freshman to Clearwater, will come off the bench to support Clearwater. She has a beautiful shot and good athletic ability. Erinn is from Sarasota, Florida.

Lauren Albury’s speed and shooting will earn her some floor time as well. The freshman music education major from Palm Beach, Florida, will be an exciting addition to the lineup.

Freshman Meaghan Hallice, sister of former player, Kristen, and current player, Alyssa, brings a good post presence to the game that the Cougars have lacked in the past few years. She is currently going through rehab for her back, but she’ll see more playing time as the year progresses.

Coach Williams has one red-shirt freshman, Jenni Griffin, who is coming off wrist surgery and could possibly play by the end of the season. Coach said, “She has a great work ethic and really likes to hit the boards.” Jenni is from Crestview, Florida.

When asked about the key to this year’s season, Coach responded, “The keys to success are the same as last year—building team chemistry and having a great spiritual testimony on and off the floor.” He also added, “On the floor, our keys will be defense, taking care of the ball, and offensive efficiency.”

With added skill and new faces, the Clearwater Christian College Lady Cougars should be a solid team that will make a run for the south region championship. “We are looking to improve our place in the region this year as we would like to unseat Southeastern as the top team,” Coach said. “Every team in our region is pretty good, so it won’t be easy. With the addition of these new players mixed with our returners, we have the ingredients to be a very deep and talented team.”