By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
After finishing third in the Lone Star Conference South Division last year, the women’s basketball team is picked to win the division this year in the pre-season LSC coaches’ poll.
The Wildcats received 12 first-place votes and 145 total points in the voting from coaches, sports information directors and other media voters.
In individual voting, senior center Jamie Boles-Lord was voted South Division MVP, receiving eight votes to beat out Angelo State senior Christina Johnson for the honor by two votes.
The Wildcats were picked to finish fifth in the pre-season poll last year, and face a different situation to begin the new season.
“I think the girls took a little offense to that last year, and so this year I think the mindset is a different type of motivation,” fourth year head coach Shawna Lavender said. “Instead of trying to prove people wrong about being picked fifth, they’re trying to prove to people that that’s where they deserve to be picked.”
Second in the poll is Angelo State, which received 131 points and four first-place votes after winning the division last year. West Texas A&M, which finished second in the division last year, is third in the voting with 129 points and Tarleton State is picked to finish fourth with 103 points.
Midwestern State comes in at fifth with 73 points, Eastern New Mexico is sixth with 59, Texas Woman’s has 49 and Texas A&M-Kingsville is picked at the bottom of the division with 31 points.
With the hype of being the preseason favorite, Lavender said she’s not too worried about the added pressure of being No. 1.
“I don’t put a lot of stock on the preseason polls as it is,” Lavender said. “It’s nice to know that we’ve earned the respect of other teams by being considered one of the top contenders in the conference, but like I told our girls, it’s something you have to go out and earn.”
Boles-Lord returns for her senior year after averaging 13.9 points per game to lead the LSC South Division and led the league in field goal percentage, shooting .546 from the field. She also averaged 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
“She does a great job of getting everybody involved, and I think that’s what makes her such a good player,” Lavender said. “It’s not the fact that she can dominate anybody going one-on-one, but the fact that she knows how to get her teammates involved, and she doesn’t try to carry the whole load on her shoulders alone.”
Boles-Lord won’t have to carry the load for the team with the return of two other starters from last year, senior shooting guard Ashley King and sophomore point guard Alex Guiton.
King has set three-point records and has improved her overall game, Lavender said, and Guiton will lead the team at point guard after a year of experience.
Lavender said being picked No. 1 is nice, but her team has to prove its ranking during the season.
“The end of the year is what’s going to matter,” Lavender said. “And if you don’t work hard every single day and get the job done in practice then it won’t happen in the games either.”