Coggins: Mount Olive seniors should shine in postseason
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 28, 2011 1:48 PM
Never settle for anything less than your best has been the recipe for success for the latest women's senior basketball class at Mount Olive College.
The six-player group recognized before the regular-season home finale Saturday against St. Andrews has undoubtedly set a new standard of excellence for the Trojans.
Brittany Miller, Shequanta McGee, RoShonda Speed and Laporsha Davis have been together four seasons. Jasmine Whitby transferred in three years ago from Louisburg Junior College. Jessica Nelms joined the group last year from Old Dominion.
Each has contributed in her own way.
Miller brought a tremendous work ethic that became contagious among her teammates. McGee developed a "Mother Hen" persona and emerged the heart of the team. Davis and the injury-plagued Speed brought determination and a strong will to the court. Whitby provided inspiration to her teammates. Nelms supplied leadership in just one season.
Wendy Lee, the winningest coach in MOC program history, certainly saw something unique in each player when she recruited them as freshmen and on the JUCO circuit. They've each blossomed during their respective career.
"I don't think you ever know what to expect when they're that young," laughed Lee. "But early on, I knew these girls had something special in them."
Lee was right.
McGee, Miller, Speed and Davis learned the ropes from experienced players Lakeisha Monroe, Keona Corley, Meaghan Vanderhorst, Teneal Boone and Tomeka Prichard, who graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer. They contributed early in their careers and winning as freshmen gave them the confidence they needed to carry over and help the younger players on this year's team.
The core players -- McGee, Miller, Speed and Davis -- will exit with the most career wins (79 and counting) among four-year players. They helped MOC win the 2008 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament title and advance to NCAA Division II East Regional semifinals.
A victory Tuesday gives the quartet three 20-win campaigns in four years. The Trojans (19-7 overall) play host to Belmont Abbey in quarterfinal-round action of the 2011 Conference Carolinas tournament.
"The experience and playing with six girls who have been doing this for four years, and knowing that I can fit in with them is just amazing," said sophomore Andrea Jones. "I enjoy playing with these girls and next year I'm really going to miss them, so I'll have to step up in some ways."
Lee has seen Jones, Jasmine McDonald, Joneiqua Gary, Destinee Webb, Alyssa Luebs and Kirstin Mobley mature through the guidance of the more-experienced players. Their ability to soak up information like sponges and execute on the court has helped the Trojans develop depth on the bench.
"To me, I think, having that experience out there has given me a level of comfort that I know they know what they're doing," said Lee. "Whether we go do it or not might be different. It's helped Andrea free herself up to play and be comfortable because she knows that everybody around her knows what's going on.
"These seniors were able to win early as freshmen and they haven't accepted anything other than that ... have had that mindset which has made a big difference the past three years."
And led to unforgettable success, too.