Winter Sports Preview: Women's Basketball

With the 2011-12 women's basketball season set to tip-off on November 15 when the Petrels host Emory at 7:00 p.m., gopetrels.com previews the upcoming campaign.

2011-12 Season Outlook

A new era dawns in 2011 for the Stormy Petrels women's basketball program as Aaron Nester takes over as the team's sixth head coach in school history. Hired last May, Nester, who spent the last five seasons as the assistant coach at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, brings a total of nine years experience at the Division III level to the Oglethorpe staff. Joining Nester as his assistant in this new regime is RyAnne Ridge, who comes to comes to Oglethorpe after competing collegiately as a guard at the Division I level for the University of Tulsa and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Nester and Ridge will be tasked with rebuilding a squad that has been beset by injuries the past two seasons en route to a combined 16-35 overall record. Though it may take time for Nester to recruit the players to suit his style of play, the 2011-12 squad returns seven key contributors from last season to help provide a solid core moving forward. The coaching staff will look to blend the returning talent with four new faces in quest for more victories this season.

Leading the pack of returning players is junior post Sarah Giles of Marietta, Ga. At 6'3, Giles is a menacing defensive presence in the post who, in only two seasons, is already Oglethorpe's all-time leading shot blocker. Joining Giles will be senior guard Katie Weeks of Woodstock, Ga. A hard-nosed player with a relentless style, Weeks spearheaded the offensive attack last year for Oglethorpe and will be counted on for more of the same in 2011-12. The squad will also benefit from the returning services of three juniors – forward Mareva Bone (Marietta, Ga.),guard Riley Cerone (Roswell, Ga.) and guard Sarah Jones (Ellijay, Ga.). Bone is an offensive dynamo whose career has been sidetracked by injury while both Cerone and Jones possess deadly long-range touch from three-point territory.

Two sophomores, 5'11 post Ky'Laine Rogers (McDonough, Ga.) and 5'5 speedster Kyana Jenkins (Charleston, S.C.), return to help the Petrels in a variety of ways. Both Rogers and Jenkins are outstanding athletes who also compete on Oglethorpe's track team and they can run the basketball floor with the best of them. Rogers will help the Petrels immensely in rebounding while Jenkins will be asked to pick her spots to both push the pace and slow it down.

Among the newcomers is 5'6 junior guard Morghan Brandon (Chicago, Ill.) who competed as a freshman before taking her sophomore year off to focus on her course work. Brandon is a classic floor general who will come off the bench to provide steady and valuable minutes for the squad. The team also welcomes three freshmen guards to the fold: Christian Langston (Woodstock, Ga.), Aisha Atwater (Hampton, Ga.) and Erin McPhee (Waccabuc, N.Y.). The trio of freshmen guards will be asked to push the veterans in practice and fight for playing time on the perimeter.

The 2011-12 schedule features the traditional gamut of SCAC contests sprinkled with nonconference foes throughout November and December. The season tips off at home on November 15th against cross-town rival Emory and the schedule is highlighted by two tournaments – the Stormy Petrel Classic and the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Petrel Classic will be played at Oglethorpe November 26 and 27 and features contests against LaGrange and Piedmont. The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will be played in Montgomery, Ala. December 29 and 30 and has Oglethorpe slated to face Mississippi College and Ripon.

"I think as the year progresses you will see a team that improves in the fundamentals and on the defensive end of the floor," said coach Nester of the upcoming campaign. "To be successful we must defend every night and limit our mistakes but most importantly we must believe in ourselves and each other."

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