Ryan McGee, Reporter
Matthew McConnell, Editor
Berry’s women’s basketball team has high expectations for the 2018-19 season.
The Vikings maintained their 6-8 conference record by defeating Centre College in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. But, despite an 18-point outing from senior Nia Smith, the team then lost in the semifinals to Oglethorpe University.
At the end of last season, the team lost four seniors that had brought a variety of strengths to the team, according to Assistant Coach Ashley Southern. In response, six newcomers are picking up right where the seniors left off, Southern said.
“I am excited to see all the newcomers on the floor this year,” Southern said.
The 2017-18 season was a transitional year for this basketball team. This was the first year Head Coach Thomas Johnson and Southern worked together.
They are both looking forward to their second year. Official practice started on Oct. 15, but the team had already started preseason workouts and playing pick-up together daily.
“This is our first recruiting class and I think they are going to have a major impact on the team early in the season,” Johnson said.
There has been much growth in leadership with the upperclassman returners this season. Seniors Christine Cerezola and Alex Weems and juniors Eveline Parsons and McKenzie Smith.
She believes that these returners know what it takes to make a great team and have already had a great impact during preseason.
As regular season play begins, Southern believes the team’s solid defense from last year will carry over and be a strength again, noting that the team struggled offensively last year.
“I think one of our weaknesses that we will have to work on early will be our ability to score the ball,” Southern said. “We have some returners and newcomers that have the ability to score, but I think this will be an area of focus.”
Cerezola also has high expectations for the team and believes they can win the conference. She believes she has helped mentor the underclassmen through the preseason.
Cerezola sees a lot of her own traits in freshman forward Mary Walters.
“I think as a freshman she is already developing into a leader that will benefit her in her coming years,” Cerezola said.
Walters said she shares the same goal with Southern and Cerezola, which is to win the conference. Walters believes the Vikings are ready for the season and have worked hard during preseason to prepare.
“We only have 11 days to get ready for our first scrimmage after we start practicing,” Walters said. “This preseason has been very important to us.”
The Vikings had their first scrimmage on Oct. 26 against Gadsden State.
The first regular season game will be on Monday at 6 p.m. against Wesleyan College at The Cage Athletic Center.