Lady Wildcats tip off 2016-17 season with Rust College

The Wiley College women’s basketball team enters Saturday’s 2 p.m. season opener on Homecoming against Rust College as different team than last year.

“I’m excited,” head coach Ashley Walker said. “We have a lot of upper classmen. We have some leadership qualities that we didn’t always have. I got kids taking initiative. I have kids that are owning their mistakes. I got kids that are taking ownership of the rest of the team. Cohesiveness is good to have. Leaders are good. Getting along with each other well. Going into the first game I’m hoping to see all of that and it continue throughout the season.”

The Lady Wildcats return four players from last season’s 17-10 team – led by Red River Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, Ty Colquitt, RRAC First Team All-Conference selection Alexis Bernstine and RRAC Second Team All-Conference selection Anika Nottingham. Kendra Carolina who played in all 27 games and started six last season.

Out of Wiley College’s new players Jackie Allen is the only true freshman. She graduated from South Oak Cliff High School. Sophomore guard Danielle Walters is a transfer from Clarendon College. Junior forward Malachi McQueen and junior guard Ariel Taylor are transfers from Angelina College. The Lady Wildcats return two players that were injured last season – senior guard Lisa Nealey and junior post Latisha Pitt. Sha’Georgia Williams and Taylor Hawkins weren’t eligible last year but will play this season.

To prepare for Saturday’s opener, Wiley College scrimmaged against Angelina College on October 24 and University of Texas-Tyler on October 28. Walker, who is in her second season as head coach, feels her team is making progress despite a rough practice on Thursday.

“We took a step back in practice,” Walker said. “Overall we are in the B range, maybe high Bs. We have taken huge steps forward. … We have another opportunity Friday morning to come in and clean up the mistakes we made. Overall we have progressed fairly well.”

The Lady Wildcats beat Rust College twice last season and have won all 10 matchups since 2007. Walker said her team has the size advantage but Rust College has quick guards.

“At times they shot 3-pointers well,” Walker said. “I think we took them for granted because they were shorter than us but they were just as quick. We got to do a better job if not taking for granted what team is in front of us and look at them as a team we are playing that’s trying to stop us from being successful.”

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