SCC Sports Information
Lena Bramblett is very accustomed to winning basketball games as the head women’s coach at St. Catharine. In her first five seasons the Patriots compiled a winning percentage of .614 (90-56). In the sixth season, 2008-2009, Bramblett endured her first losing campaign as injuries led to a 12-18 record.
But that plague of injuries was nothing compared to the epidemic of maladies Bramblett’s bunch suffered last season that ended with an 8-23 slate. To her credit, the Patriot mentor made no excuses or references to the cadre of walking wounded that surrounded her program. But, then again, she didn’t need to. Anyone observing could note that there were as many players on the bench in street clothes as there were those in uniform.
“It looks like all of the injured players from last year are healthy,” said Bramblett. “Most of them are at full strength.”
Full strength is needed as the Patriots embark on their second season in the tough Mid-South Conference. Last year they were 2-12 in conference play and lost the opening game of the tournament 78-51 to Cumberlands. Bramblett looks for better things this year but recognizes the challenge her team faces.
“Campbellsville has just about everyone back and added a D-I transfer to their national tournament team,” Bramblett stated. “University of the Cumberlands will be tough as always. Also, add Shawnee State who is new to the conference but was always a contender when they were NAIA D-II. Throw in University of Virginia-Wise and our conference just got a lot tougher.”
The Patriots look to bring their own toughness with a mixture of veterans and newcomers. Danielle Brown and Reena Haliburton, both 5-11 seniors, return to the paint this year. Adding depth to that post position will be senior Sara Sexton who played at St. Catharine for two years before spending one year on the team at Campbellsville.
Four players are expected to share time at the team’s four position. Whitney Jordan (5-9), who sat out the entire season last year with a foot injury, will return. Sexton will also see time there along with newcomers Rianne Hofstratt, a 6-1 freshman, and Keller Menke, a 5-9 freshman.
A quintet of players will vie for the shooting guard position. Taylor Oliver brings the most experience to the position as the 5-6 senior will return for her final season. Like Jordan, she sat out all of last year with a foot injury. Junior Brittany Wieber will log time at the two spot along with freshmen Leah Flora, Carol Ruiz-Lopez and Dee Johnson.
Running the show at point guard will be junior Emily Caras or freshman Machera Calhoun. Caras played in all 31 games last year.
Bramblett cited her team’s strengths this year as “strong senior leadership, more athleticism at our guard spots, our competitiveness and our defensive capabilities.”
She added, “Our freshmen will have to play a key role early with a tough schedule both in and out of the conference.”
Outside the conference the Patriots will play the nation’s number one team, Union University, and Walsh University which is also nationally ranked. The schedule also includes Cumberland University (Tennessee) who signed four D-I transfers and an exhibition game at Murray State.
The Patriot women opened their season last night at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Ky. They stay on the road tonight to play #1 Union University in Jackson, Tenn. The home opener is Nov. 9 against Midway College at 7:30 p.m.