Siloam Springs, Ark. (October 22, 2007) - In the closest of ballots, Lubbock Christian gets the nod from the Sooner Athletic Conference coaches as the No. 1 team in the conference.
Lubbock Christian and Southern Nazarene, who finished the season deadlocked atop the standings last season, received five first place votes each out of 12 available. The Lady Chaps finished with 113 points in the poll, while SNU had 112. Each coach ranked the teams from 1 to 11, exclluding his or her own team. Eleven points were awarded for first place, 10 for second, etc.
Oklahoma City had the remaining two first-place votes and finished third at 107. Oklahoma Baptist was fourth, followed by Oklahoma Christian, USAO, John Brown, Wayland Baptist, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Rogers State, St. Gregory’s and Mid-America Christian.
“It is certainly flattering for us and an honor for these kids to be on top of the poll, but it is pretty unique that the pre-season polls work out at the end of the season,” said LCU coach Steve Gomez. “We have some decent experience and some players who have been through this (being picked to win the SAC) before. We now know that we will have a target on our backs, and we can either make that work for us or against us.”
LCU was 26-7 last year and returns SAC Co-Player of the Year Jordan Hampton and third-team All-SAC guard Sierra Wilcox-Lovorn. Hampton averaged 17 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and led the conference in three-point and free throw accuracy.
The Lady Chaps also have 6-1 forward Carolyn Manning back in the fold after a stint at Salt Lake Community College. LCU reached the second round of the NAIA Tournament last season.
Southern Nazarene returns four starters from last season’s NAIA quarterfinals squad, including 2007 SAC Newcomer of the Year Tejana Elmore (6-3, senior post) and SAC Freshman of the Year Lana Keith. Elmore averaged 10.5 points per game last season, while Keith tossed in 8.2 per game.
Oklahoma City also returns four starters, including three double-digit scorers. NAIA honorable mention All-America Chelsea Ledbetter (10.2), 604 post Romana Vynuchalova (10.9) and forward Viola Beybeyah (10.4) are all back. The Stars also added NCAA Division I transfers Erika Gaddies (Toledo), Breezy Martin (Wichita State) and Nicole Hardin (Indiana), along with standout junior college transfers Atta Diabate (Salt Lake) and Laura Duncan (Eastern).
Oklahoma Baptist returns three starters, led by All-SAC players Jennifer Jupin and Betsy Simmons. OBU picked up Division I transfer Ashley Gamble to run the point and will have the services of former Baylor signee Kendrea Walker in the post for the second half of the season.
Oklahoma Christian brings back two starters, including co-Freshman of the Year Kailan DeCamp. Haley Myers was brought in from Northern Oklahoma College-Enid and OC also will count on freshmen Hillary Duncan (Tulsa Memorial) and Jasmine Manuel (Tulsa Edison).
USAO has two starters back, led by Kartesha Rambo, who averaged nine points last season. J’Nay Vann out of Lon Morris, Yesi Castillo from Eastern Oklahoma College and Julianna Leite from Labette will be counted on as junior college transfers.
John Brown has the most daunting task, replacing five starters. JBU’s top returning scorer is Amber Vogts at 4.4 points per game. The Golden Eagles will hope for big contributions from sophomore transfers Micaela Cully (Tulsa), LeNece Glossett (Redlands) and Lauren Dennis (Arkansas Tech).
Wayland Baptist, now under the direction of Tory Bryant, including All-SAC honorable mentions Anastasia Okolo and Vanita Wright. Erica Knight, a 6-1 transfer from South Plains College, and freshmen Megan Coats (Amarillo Palo Duro) and Jessica Howard (Clarendon) are the top additions.
D’Shanna Butler averaged 10 points and was an honorable mention All-SAC player last season. She leads Northwestern this season along with transfers Kelli Krows (Southwestern OSU), Leandra Johnson (Redlands) and Chelszi Coggins (Cowley County) and Tonkawa freshman Claudia Vazquez.
First-year member Rogers State is coached by Amy Williams, who successfully brought in a mix of transfers and freshmen, including Delaware State forward Azzie Knox.
St. Gregory’s brings back four returning starters, led by Nkechi Okorie, who had 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last year. Mandey Tackett transfers in from Western Oklahoma along with six freshmen.
Josh Lind’s Mid-America Christian women will be led by NCCAA All-American Courtney Sorrels, who averaged 15 points last year. Eight freshmen also grace the roster with April Hale (Weatherford), Melissa Aguilar (Odessa, Texas) and Chandell Norman (Edmond) expected to make a contribution.
The Sooner Athletic Conference placed five teams in the 32-team NAIA Tournament last season and SAC schools have captured 12 national titles since 1981 while another six have reached the finals.
The SAC hosts its annual Media Day at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Bricktown Brewery in Oklahoma City.