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Wallace State's women's basketball team is poised to add another successful chapter to its history during the 2014-15 season.
The Lady Lions enter the new campaign as defending Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) North Division champions after finishing last season with a 27-5 record, completing one of the most successful seasons in recent history. Wallace State was a perfect 13-0 at home during the regular season, won 18 of 19 games at one point, made a conference-best 265 3-pointers and earned a top seed in the conference tournament.
Wallace State returns leading scorer Morgan Smith to the fold in 2014-15 as it seeks a strong postseason run. Smith, a Cullman graduate, finished her freshman year with a team-high 11.2 points per game and added 5.6 rebounds. She was named to the All-Region 22 second team and was a first-team All-North Division member.
Smith is the lone returning starter on this season's team, but there are other sophomores eager to play a bigger role.
Haven Albright returns to the Lady Lions after averaging 6.2 points last season, mainly off the bench. Morgan Hardy should provide some valuable minutes in the post along with BreAnna Thompson, who finished with 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds last season.
Georgia native Kaneisha Mixon is also among the sophomores returning to the Lions this season along with forward Shantay Baldwin.
Wallace State women's coach Ron Burdette has recruited a solid freshman class. Sydney Houston, a 5-foot-6 point guard from Tanner, should be among the impact freshmen on the roster after earning 1st-team All-State honors in high school. Tyra Caudle, a 5-foot-11 forward from Hazel Green, will be starting in the post.
Freshman Hannah Vest, a former All-State performer at North Sand Mountain High, will see extensive time in the Wallace State backcourt in addition to Arab native Hannah Black.
Wallace State should also get a boost from freshmen Kasey Sparks and Brennan Crabtree. Sparks is from Red Bay and Crabtree is from East Limestone.
Rounding out the 2014-15 roster are Jada Dale (Hazel Green High), Rachael Diamond (East Limestone), Kamri Sears (Tharptown), Lesley Whiddon (Paulding County, Ga.) and Keisha Shy (Paulding County, Ga.).
Burdette enters his fourth season with the Lady Lions and has established his successful footprint on the program in a short time frame, compiling a 72-24 record with the Lady Lions. He has earned Coach of the Year honors each season with Wallace State. He was named the ACCC North Coach of the Year in both 2014 and 2013 and the 2012 ACCC Coach of the Year. His teams have finished state-runner up twice (2013 and 2012) and third once (2014).
Burdette, a former University of Alabama basketball walk-on, has been part of the Wallace State family for more than a decade, serving as an assistant coach under Larry Slater beginning in 2002, and playing a strong role in the program winning two state championships (2003, 2011). Burdette was also the men's interim head coach during the 2004-05 campaign.
During the 2013-14 season, Wallace State had a balanced offensive attack with seven players averaging at least 7.5 points per game. Morgan Pearson averaged 10.9 points per game and was a first-team All-Region 22 selection. Sophomore shooting guard Jaylan Snowden finished with 8.4 points per game and team highs in assists (139) and steals (4.7). Fellow sophomore Jasmine Coleman finished with 9.6 points and a team-high 233 rebounds (7.5 per game). Both Snowden and Coleman were named to the All-North Division second team.
The Wallace State women's program has a winning tradition. The Lady Lions have won six ACCC/Region 22 state championships and have advanced four times to National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I tournaments. The program last advanced to the national tournament in 2011, when the Lady Lions won four games in four days to earn a championship in Slater's final season.
Wallace State women's basketball has produced more than 110 NCAA Division I players upon transferring and holds claim to a strong collection of NJCAA All-Americans and NJCAA Academic Athletes of Distinction in its history.
Burdette, who lives in Cullman and holds a degree in marketing from Alabama, coached at Monrovia Middle School and Randolph High School in the 1990s, prior to his arrival at Wallace State.
For more information about the program, contact Coach Ron Burdette at 256-352-8350 or email Ron.Burdette@wallacestate.edu.