Shelton State faces Coastal Alabama-North on emotional night
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
Tuscaloosa, Al –The Shelton State Community College women’s basketball team is set to welcome Coastal Alabama-North to their home turf for a conference duel Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. The Lady Bucs enter this matchup as the far superior team with a 24-1 record on the year, and 14-0 in the conference. They have cruised through their schedule while being ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation among all junior colleges.
The Coastal Alabama-North Eagles have had a tougher season thus far as they enter with a 1-20 overall record, and 0-14 in the conference. Last season the Lady Bucs handled them well in back-to-back games, beating the Eagles in both games by an average of 32.5 points.
Feb. 18 will also serve as a great moment for the team playing in their last home before the postseason tournament starts. Shelton will celebrate the hard work and dedication that was put forth by these brilliant women on what will be “Sophomore Night.”
Players including Trinity Hambright, Jemeriah Moore, Kiana Montgomery, Ke’Ajia William and Taylor Smith will be recognized for their efforts as they continue their journey to higher heights in Basketball and education.
One of the vocal leaders of the team expressed what it is like to play for Shelton State head coach Madonna Thompson as they send off their graduating sophomores after the season.
“She’s a great coach that knows her stuff, I’ve definitely gotten better since I’ve been here because she is going to bring the best out of you,” said freshman point guard Nya Valentine.
The Lady Bucs will be confident coming into this matchup and rightfully so. They have run through their schedule while achieving a few Top-10 wins over schools like Jones and Chipola College. Their lone loss on the season came to Georgia Highlands who has been ranked inside the Top-10 nationally for most of the year.
On the other side, the Eagles have struggled to conjure up any consistent success. The most glaring issues seems to point to their sketchy offense as they shoot 36% from the field and an equally poor three-point percentage hovering around 28%. Their single win came on the road against Faulkner University JV back in November.
Key Factors to Consider
The amount of the Lady Bucs has at their disposal in the low post will cause the Eagles to pay hefty attention to. They have three frontcourt players that rank inside the Top-50 for field goal percentage with forward Asia Barclay sitting inside the Top-5, according to NJCAA rankings.
Coastal Alabama will have their work cut out for them because Shelton State has not lost a game on their home floor all year. The Lady Bucs scoring defense that ranks 2nd in the nation will try to continue their stout dominance to make every shot difficult.
The belief is that the Eagles will try to make this a meaningful game although history would not suggest the same. The Coastal Alabama women can’t repeat the tendency to cough up the ball whenever they see green and white uniforms. The Eagles managed to give up over 30 turnovers in both their matchups against Shelton State last year.
Players to watch
If coach Thompson has her way, this would be a game where Maya Cunningham can put her energy on display. She makes up for lack of size with the ability to be able to keep attacking the offensive glass to wear down opponents. In fact, she has more rebounds (102) on the offensive end than defensively (93).
One of the most crucial players in this matchup could be Shelton’s boisterous sophomore point guard, Taylor Smith, who has a confidence that never wavers. Even during a 22-game win streak with all the bragging rights, the work is not done for the team.
“Teams like Coastal-North, we try to push ourselves more to get better, and prepare for the bigger and harder games,” said Smith.
The Eagles have some firepower to put on display as well. Kadresha Smith has the capability to cause problems for some players in the post with her knack for being a bully on the glass. She has 6 games of at least 10 rebounds thus far this year.
Another player to keep an eye out for is Elisa Saffold with her instinct to fill the basket up. She has been on fire for the month of February so far. One of her most recent games saw her score 30 points in the process of knocking down eight 3-pointers against Wallace.
This game will not have any playoff implications for the Eagles as they are not any closer to getting in the national rankings even if they manage to win this game.
The Lady Bucs will want to keep their momentum going in the latter part of their schedule where they clearly will have the upper hand in each matchup. If they continue to dominate the opposition in bruising fashion, they will March into the next month on a high note still being ranked inside the Top-5.