The North Greenville women’s basketball team is on the verge of its inaugural season in the Conference Carolinas, but change is nothing new to head women’s coach Jayne Arledge, who has been at NGU for 31 years.
Arledge has seen numerous changes during her tenure, including moves from a Junior College in the Western Carolinas Conference to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and a member of the Mid-South Conference. In 2002, NGU made the move to the NCAA as an independent and will finally enter conference play this season.
“We are excited about the chance to finally play in a Conference,” remarked Arledge. “It’s going to be pretty cool to play for a Conference Championship as well as a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Our girls are excited about the individual awards as well.”
Last season the Crusaders wrapped up their campaign with a 13-14 record but were one win away from a repeat trip to the NCCAA National Tournament. Coach Arledge has four starters returning from last years season, and a wealth of young, experienced talent at her disposal on the bench.
Among the four returning starters returning for the 2011-2012 season are three seniors, including leading scorer Karly Stache and assists leader Christina Carlis. Karly Stache has cemented herself as one of North Greenville’s most prolific three-point shooters with 229 career triples. She also currently sits at 1,125 career points, just 316 shy of the school record. Last season, Stache led the Crusaders with 15.2 points in 26 games played. Stache also recorded 27 steals on the defensive end of the floor.
Senior Christina Carlis will also return to the team this season to run the NGU offensive assault. In 2011 Carlis was the fuel that powered the North Greenville engine. In 27 games, Carlis averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. She was also the team leader in steals last season tallying 41 thefts.
Carlis is sitting at 258 career assists, just 104 shy of the record 362, set by Nikki Wood from 2007-2010. Also within her grasp is the elusive 1000-point mark. She has 740 career points heading into this season. While 240 points would put her at the 1000-point mark for her career, 262 points would move her into the top 10 for career scoring at NGU.
Also returning to help NGU this year is a great deal of experience in the post- position. Senior Erin Gray returns to occupy the low block for NGU. Erin Gray Is a long-armed post player who averaged 4.9 points and 5.2 rebounds last season. Gray 4th all time at NGU in blocks and finished with 17 in 2011.
Occupying the other block for NGU will be Krisceda Cotton. The 5’8 Junior averaged 8.9 points a game in 2011 and was second on the team in rebounds with 6.4 a game. Cotton was NGU’s leading rebounder on the defensive glass collecting 121 defensive boards last season. As an undersized forward, Cotton held her own in 2010-2011, rejecting 15 shots, which was second on the team. She was also second on the team with 37 steals.
In invaluable aspect of the 2011-2012 team, is bench depth. The Crusaders return 7 players from last year’s squad who played in at-least 20 games. Last season, North Greenville’s bench players averaged 31.7 points per game and 19.1 rebounds in 104.3 minutes of play.
Among the returners is Rashmi Vanhook who spent the 2009-2010 season recovering from a torn knee ligament. Vanhook played in 20 games last season and averaged 4.4 points a game.
The point guard position will also have depth this season with Raven Wamer coming off of the bench. In 2010-2011, Wamer averaged 18 minutes a game and 5.4 four points.
The only questions for the Crusaders this year will be the incoming talent. Alisha Hope was a redshirt last season but is expected to see the floor early and often. Hope is an athletic guard who brings quickness and good deicision making to the floor. She is another player who will add needed depth the point guard position.
Timisty Nelson and Courtney Friddle are also two freshmen Jayne Arledge is looking to, to make an early impact. Nelson is a guard from Rockhill, South Carolina who averaged 19.6 points during her high school career at South Pointe High School. Friddle, a 6’0 forward is a two time All-Region player from Hillcrest High School.
Keys to the game this year for NGU? Coach Arledge says its pretty simple. “This year really comes down to rebounding and staying healthy. If we can do that and get the ball to the right people, and not turn it over we have a chance.”
“I am excited about this season,” remarked Arledge. “This team has a lot of potential and a load of experience. They are very confident. We have great team chemistry and the girls have really worked hard and look to achieve a lot this year.”
North Greenville’s 2011-2012 campaign will tipoff tonight in Spartanburg, South Carolina when the Crusaders hit the road to take on the Spartans of USC Upstate. NGU will open the home portion of their schedule on November 21 against Emmanuel College and conference play on November 29 at Belmont Abbey. Tipoff for tonight’s game with USC Upstate is scheduled for 7:30 pm.