Nov. 12 – BETHANY, W.Va. - With four players with starting experience and 10 total returners back from a season ago, the Bethany College women’s basketball team looks poised to compete in the upper echelon of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Head coach Rebecca Upton, who is in her 11th season at the helm of the Bison program, is excited about the teams’ potential and what they are capable of doing in the PAC after notching six conference wins during last year’s campaign.
“We’re really looking forward to starting our season,” remarked Upton. “The team has had a great attitude entering camp and I’ve liked our intensity and focus.”
The Bison will be spearheaded by junior forwards Sami Schott (Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) and Gabrielle Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range), as well as sophomore guard Lauren Simpson (Washington, Pa./Trinity) and junior guard Mikyla Tipton (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville).
Schott showed her ability to not only score the basketball, averaging 10.7 points, but also have a knack for rebounding, ranking 12th in the conference with 7.1 boards per game. Registering five double-doubles last year, her top game saw her score 18 points and collect 17 rebounds.
Naples, who ranked in the top-20 in the conference in scoring last year averaging 10.1 points, will once again be counted on to provide the Bison offense a scoring punch. She was also impressive from the foul line, ranking third in the league hitting .835 % from the stripe. Naples is also a force on the defensive end, leading the team with 13 blocked shots.
Simpson is Bethany’s three-point marksman, ranking seventh in the PAC in both three-point percentage (.392) and made three-point shots (40). Last season, Simpson made two or more three’s in 11 games, including a game where she made a career-high five three-point field goals.
Tipton is the “do-it-all” guard for the Bison, bringing opportune scoring and great defense to the floor every game. Last season, she averaged 7.3 points per game to go along with 34 assists and 24 steals.
Others returning players that are expected to see significant playing time include sophomore guard Alexis Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) and sophomore forward Carly Grady (Keyser, W.Va./Keyser). Naples saw action in all 26 games, recording 62 assists and 19 steals. Grady, who missed most of last season due to injury, is expected to provide depth in the paint.
In an addition to the returners, Coach Upton also brought in a large recruiting class that is expected to add excitement to the squad. Freshmen Kelsea Daugherty (Newport, Ohio/Frontier), Kelsi Settle (Sebring, Ohio/Sebring) and Celestia Hendrix (Syracuse, Ohio/Southern) are expected to provide depth at the forward positions, while freshmen Mytia Barker (Wintersville, Ohio/Steubenville) and Maclaine Murad (Bridgeport, Ohio/Bridgeport), as well as sophomore transfer Hayley Holenka (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside) will compete at the guard spots.
The Green & White open their season on Saturday, Nov. 15 as they travel to Franciscan University for a 1:00 p.m. start. Bethany’s home opener will come 10 days later as they play host to non-conference opponent Marietta College. Their first conference contest will be on Wednesday, Dec. 3 as they welcome the Bearcats of Saint Vincent College.