The UNA women’s basketball team will begin its season on the road at Montevallo Nov. 12 and will have its home opener Nov. 14 against Tennessee Temple.
Although UNA lost several key starters, it does have nine returning lettermen, including starter Dana Jackson and seniors Jessi Smith, Lacy Lewis and Jasmine Saxton.
UNA also has several transfer players who will be a huge asset to the Lions, including senior Jasmine Horne, who previously played at Northwest Shoals and IUPUI. Head coach Terry Fowler is excited about what the Lady Lions will accomplish this season.
“We’re solid right now, playing a good seven or eight kids; Dana Jackson, a three-year starter is returning, and she’ll always be someone on the team to watch,” Fowler said. “Lacy Lewis is playing as well as she’s ever played since she’s been here. We really want to have great balance; we don’t want a team that just focuses on one or two people. We’ve got five or six that can be explosive on any given night.”
UNA did not play against Montevallo or Tennessee Temple last season, and both teams will have begun their seasons before facing the Lions.
“We’re just going to have to go down there and play hard, play UNA basketball,” Fowler said. “We just have to make sure we play together, play tough and play smart, and we will be OK.
“We’re coming back with a quick turnaround from a game at Montevallo and playing at home. I think Tennessee Temple will have already played four or five ball games before we play them, but it will be exciting for our kids to come back and play at home in Flowers Hall in front of a good crowd.”
Senior guard Dana Jackson said that, at this point, the Lions are trying to get everyone together and understanding the way UNA does things in order to move forward.
“Right now we’re trying to get everyone on the same page,” she said. “We have six freshmen, and high school ball and college ball are totally different. We’ve actually gotten better already; it’s really just about getting better every day at this point. We’re all together as a team right now, but we’ve got to continue to do that this season.”
Jasmine Horne, a transfer-senior guard, said that the difference in playing at her previous schools and at UNA is that, with the Lions, the team acts like a family.
“At UNA, it’s a family thing; you back up teammates as a team here, and that’s what I really like about it,” Horne said. “It’s not just about one person who could make us or break us here. We’ve really just got to stay together with all the new people on the team, so when we hit adversity we can overcome it.”
One of the goals the Lady Lions have this season is to be undefeated at home and to progress to the point of winning the Gulf South Conference again.
“When you protect your home, it’s much easier to go and play somewhere else and do well there,” Horne said. “You’ve got to protect your house; we’ve got to always make it a challenge to play with us here.”
Jackson said the key to success in the next few games will be a team effort.
“We’ve got to play hard and execute everything,” Jackson said. “Other than scrimmages, we haven’t had a true test to see what we need to work on. Execution, working hard and a strong defense is really the key to winning these upcoming games.”