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Wallace State women's basketball enters the 2013-14 season as the 16th-ranked team in the NJCAA, creating high expectations for the experienced Lady Lions.
Wallace State returns six sophomores from last year's team, which finished 23-10 and was ACCC state runner-up for the second consecutive season. With the experience returning for the Lady Lions this season, the team is once again a legitimate state championship contender and has a chance to advance to the national tournament for the first time in three seasons.
Among the sophomores returning for Wallace State is second-team All-ACCC performer Jaylan Snowden, a 5-foot-8 guard, As a freshman, the Mobile native averaged nine points per game to go along with a team-high 5.7 assists. She also collected 63 steals and was named to the conference All-Tournament team. Brandee Busenlehner, Hannah Sharp and DeAndrea Carter all return as well in the Wallace State backcourt. Busenlehner, a Locust Fork native, was tied for the team lead last season with 41 3-pointers made and averaged 6.7 points. Sharpe, a Red Bay graduate, tallied 64 assists and 54 steals last season, while Carter averaged 4.2 points.
Morgan Pearson, another 3-point specialist for the Lady Lions, is back and should serve as a threat around the perimeter and in the paint. Pearson averaged 8.2 points last season, knocking down 41 3-pointers. Jasmine Coleman also returns in the post after collecting 7.1 rebounds as a freshman, good for second on the team. Coleman also had 59 steals and a team-high 53 blocks.
Wallace State coach Ron Burdette has also assembled a talented freshman class. Morgan Smith, a 5-foot-11 forward, should see extensive playing time in the post after a superb career at Cullman High. Molly Thompson, a Priceville grad, should provide quality depth in the post, while guard Haven Albright will see action in the backcourt. Other freshmen looking to make considerable contributions are Amber Carey, Ashley Rodgers, Morgan Handy, Shantay Baldwin and Kaneisha Mixon.
Burdette has carved a quick, successful niche as Wallace State's head coach, compiling a 45-19 record in two seasons and finishing state runner-up both years. He was named the 2013 ACCC North Coach of the Year and the 2012 ACCC Coach of the Year during his inaugural campaign. 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.
The 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 is two years removed from its last title 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.