Patriot women set to tip off season

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By SCC Sports Information


Lena Bramblett has coached the St. Catharine women for all four years that the Patriots have been a member of the NAIA and the Mid-South Conference. And she is painfully aware of how grueling the conference competition is each year.

“The pre-season rankings will come out soon and it won’t surprise me if we are as low as fifth or sixth in the conference,” said Bramblett who coached the Patriots for seven years as a junior college program. “We lost 10 games last year and all of them were in the conference. Five of the teams in the conference made the national tournament last year, which gives you an idea of how tough it is.”

Bramblett’s bunch turned in the best record of their NAIA era last year when they finished 21-10. They were 7-9 in the conference regular season and fell to Campbellsville in the first round of the conference tournament.  And even with her less than lofty pre-season prognostication, Bramblett is quite enthused about the upcoming season that begins Friday at Martin Methodist.

“Very rarely am I as complimentary about a team as I am with this one,” said Bramblett. “I know it is very early to say this but this is my most favorite team since I have been here. They are good students who work hard every day. And as good as they are as basketball players, they are even better people.”

And Bramblett feels she has some very good basketball players. Four starters return from last year along with two top substitutes. The returning group is led by senior forward Janae Howard (Owensboro) who last year led the team in scoring with 17.3 points a game and rebounding with 8.4 a contest.

Rianne Hofstraat (Netherlands) and Reilly Poirier (Dennis, Mass.), both forwards, also return for their junior and senior year respectively. Poirier averaged 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds while Hofstraat scored seven points a game and grabbed 4.3 rebounds.

Back to orchestrate the offense is junior point guard Machera Calhoun (Ft. Myers, Fla.) who averaged six points and four assists a game. She is joined at the guard position by sophomore Stacie Shrout (Florence) who averaged five points a game and led the team in three-point shooting at 37 percent and junior Carol Ruiz-Lopez (Ft. Myers, Fla.) who also is a threat from long range where she shot 30 percent last year.

Five newcomers to the Patriots are also expected to make immediate contributions according to Bramblett. Heather Sandlin (Florence.), a sophomore who sat out last season after playing a year at Cincinnati Christian College, is a true point guard who could be on the floor along with Calhoun.  Adding depth at the guard spot will be freshmen Cora Moore (Louisville), Sasha Ruiz-Lopez (Ft. Myers, Fla.), sister of Carol, and Nikcoa Jackson (Louisville).

Rounding out the roster is another sister act, Kassie Griffin and Alexiss Griffin, from Cape Coral, Fla. Alexxis, a 5-10 small forward, is a junior who played previously at Division I Kennesaw State, and Kassie is a 5-7 shooting guard.

“Our freshmen just need some game experience but I feel that they will all help us,” added Bramblett. “All of our players really complement each other and it is a very cohesive group. It is the toughest schedule we’ve ever played but we can compete in every game.”

The Patriots open the season with five road games before playing their home opener on Nov. 20 against Mid-South Conference rival Georgetown College.