By Marion Wilhoite
Bridgett Goodnight begins her fourth season as women’s basketball coach for Columbia State Community College with five returnees and seven freshmen.
The opener is 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against Arkansas State Mid-South with the men’s game to follow against Western Kentucky Technical Community College.
The five returnees for the Lady Chargers saw considerable action last year and are being counted on to build on last season’s 5-22 record.
Goodnight noted that the returning group of sophomores are high character kids with unbelievable work ethic. They have exemplified what it means to be a true student-athlete.
“From the very beginning of the pre-season, these girls have shown leadership to the younger players, but at the same time, they have taken ownership in making improvements in all areas,” Goodnight said.
A duo of former Perry County standouts, guard Connor Depriest and post player Leah Tangerstrom had several double-digit scoring games as freshman. Tangerstrom averaged 10.1 rebounds and 11.9 points in conference games.
Creek Wood High School product McKenzie Haislip, along with Kaitlyn Campbell from East Hickman High are capable 3-point shooters and rebounders.
A key player among the sophomores is quick-moving Layken Coman, an all-purpose player from a strong Deshler High School team coached by former Lawrence County and Columbia State standout Jana Killen.
Goodnight said the returners are a threat to score from the outside, but that Tangerstrom is the returning the leading rebounder in the conference.
“Leah proved over and over last year that rebounding is not all about size. She has a knack for getting to the offensive boards and is always putting us in a position to get another shot,” Goodnight said.
The newcomers are bringing size, athleticism and aggressive defensive play, according to Goodnight.
A pair of out-of-state players are Shawnee Koch from Hillsdale High School in Jeromesville, Ohio and Victoria Samuel of Pensacola High School.
A trio of the freshman are from Class AAA schools in Tennessee. They are Yasmine Daniel, Dickson County; Jada Hughes, Murfreesboro Blackman and Ireland Elie, Lebanon.
Also counted on are Jessica Reanna Dunkleman, Cornersville and Lasha Scott from Decatur County Riverside.
Goodnight indicated Elie will be a player to watch as she brings size on the inside and the ability to score with her back to the basket or facing up on perimeter.
Samuel will lead the offense and defense from the point guard position and is a great teammate who is willing to accept the challenge of playing such a vital position.
Scott will bring aggressive play on defense, can shoot the three, runs the floor well, and can post up smaller guards.
Goodnight noted that all of the newcomers have responded well to the adjustment of being a college student-athlete.
“As a team, it will be about how we finish. We will certainly have some growing pains along the way, but I am confident that we will improve every game,” Goodnight said. “These players are coachable, willing to correct their mistakes, and have made a true investment in the women’s basketball program and Columbia State Community College.”