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Women’s Basketball Enters Season Confident, Determined

November 02, 2012

Datona Ball  
Datona Ball

Coming off a 20-win season, a trip to the NJCAA Championship Tournament and doing so with a team composed of primarily freshmen, confidence will be in no short supply for the STLCC women’s basketball team this winter.

With eight returning players from last year, and an infusion of four freshman and three sophomore transfers, the Archers enter this year loaded for bear.

Even so, head coach Shelly Ethridge is ensuring that her team is not relying on the success of last season to naturally carry over into this year.

“We’re certainly not thinking about what’s going to happen this year, we’re going to have to take it one game at a time,” Ethridge said. “We’re happy that we have all the returners coming back and that we had the experience we had last season, but we can’t overstep our boundaries, and we have to take it one step at a time.”

At guard, the Archers will be led by sophomores Datona Ball (Brook Haven, Ohio), Kirstie Owen (Salem, Ill.) and Shakaunna Futrell (Hazelwood West). That trio represented three of the top four outside shooting threats on the team last year, and Ball and Futrell each averaged more than 11 points per game. The team also welcomes the addition of freshman Kalah Martin (Kirkwood), who will also see time at guard.

Shakaunna Futrell  
Shakaunna Futrell

After establishing themselves on the court as freshmen last year, the Archers’ sophomores now look to take on the role of mentor for the STLCC newcomers.

“Last year, it was more of a learning and watching experience,” Futrell said. “This year, I already know what the coaches expect of me. Now I just have to implement it to our freshmen.”

Futrell, whose play improved as the season progressed, served as the team’s point guard for the majority of last year. She follows her coach’s lead in turning the page quickly to this winter.

“It’s exciting, but of course we want better,” Futrell said. “We have to work to get back there (to the national tournament). It’s not going to be given to us, so we have to work to get back, and then be better.”

In the paint, STLCC will be without forward Lauren Maclin (Ladue) until December, as she rehabs from a broken foot this fall. In her stead, the Archers will look to freshman forward Diamond Suggs (Cahokia) and sophomore Paige Laird (New Baden), as well as a combination of Megan Hawkins, (Fort Zumwalt East), Kelsey Brock (Fort Zumwalt East) and Lauren Fischer (Rockwood Summit), who saw time primarily in reserve roles last season.

Kirstie Owen  
Kirstie Owen

The Archers also await the addition of freshman forward Apolonia Thomas (Cape Girardeau Central), who currently is serving tending goal for the women’s soccer team.

Suggs credits the team’s returners for creating a family-like environment within the team, which has been particularly helpful for her and other freshmen who are still adjusting to the rigors of college basketball.

“It’s real different, especially from the coaching standpoint and with conditioning,” Suggs said. “But we’re a team and a family, so we just stick together on the hard days. It’s real easy to fit in. We all connect as a team. They did well last year, so this year if we all stay connected, we should go far this year.”

The team will not have to wait long for an early-season test, as they open tonight at Jackson State University (Tenn.) and will complete a two-game swing in the South against Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tenn., on Saturday.