Veterans, Youth, are Key as Lady Spartans Prepare for New Season

Veterans, Youth, are Key as Lady Spartans Prepare for New Season

The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team looks to build on its 19-win season of a year ago as the 2017-18 season gets underway on Friday, November 10.

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Last Season - Coming off an 18-11 mark in the 2015-16 campaign, STAC served notice by winning their first five games of the season a year ago. The Lady Spartans reeled off another five game streak spanning late December and early January, finishing their East Coast conference schedule with a 12-6 record. That was good enough for a tie for second place in the conference standings, but by virtue of a tiebreaker, STAC took the #3 seed into the conference tourney. Their trip to the post-season was the third straight for the Lady Spartans, and with their opening round home victory over Bridgeport, they advanced to the conference semi-finals for the second time in that span.

The Squad - A strong core of returning seniors provide reason for optimism among Coach Kim Lusk's crew, led by First Team All-Conference point guard Jenna Erickson, Third Team All-Conference forward Adiya Henderson, and shooting guard Alex Bertolino. Juniors Ruth Adams, Chelsea Murphy, and Julia Winnick add to the veteran support staff, but a strong group of underclassmen will also play a key role.

Kellyann Averill, Missy Sadler, Kacey Burden, Jillian Lynch and Skye Burris will return as sophomores from last year's strong rookie class, and a quartet of newcomers could make an immediate impact. Freshman Emily Preston's 6'2 frame should provide a strong presence at center, Madison Amalia and Zaria Thomas will add shooting depth, and Georgia Smith adds presence both inside and outside from the swing slot. Both Preston and Smith are coming to STAC from the land Down Under, as natives of Australia. "Outisde of Kellyann, who played a lot as a freshman, we have a very young and inexperienced team but I'm excited about their effort and abilities," noted Coach Lusk.

ESPN Showcase - Just announced last week, the Spartans are included in this year's Division II Basketball Showcase. The ECC double-header featuring STAC at Queens College will be streamed via ESPN3 on Wednesday, January 24, starting with the women's contest at 5:30 pm followed by the mens teams. This is currently the only ECC featured matchup on the nationial schedule.

The Schedule - STAC will face off against its usual slate of ECC foes, highlighted by perennial powers Queens and NYIT along with a rejuvinated Molloy squad. The non-conference slate will also be challenging, starting with the Tip-Off Classic on November 10 and 11 against Bloomfield and Dominician, respectively. The Lady Spartans will also meet New Haven, Caldwell, Southern Connecticut, Pace and Assumption among their always-tough non-conference opponents.