Raiderettes look to contend

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With eight sophomores on the roster, Roane State Community College women’s basketball coach Monica Boles knows she has experience on her side. 

“Last year, we played mostly freshmen,” Boles said. “We had to throw them to the wolves, but I think that was really a blessing. We’re excited to have that experience coming back. It’s going to pay dividends for us. They have played a lot of minutes.”

The big question for Boles is whether the team’s inside game can develop quickly. She plans to use four guards, but when match-ups demand a bigger lineup, then Roane State’s post players will need to step up. 

“We have a lot of potential,” Boles said. “We like to press a lot and get up and down. We need to work on rebounding, both offensively and defensively, and getting into the fast break. We’ve got depth at every position. Our inside game is going to be what makes or breaks us. The post players are developing quickly.”

Roane State opens the season Nov. 1 against Shelton State in Morristown. The Raiderettes’ first home game is Nov. 9 against Walters State (5 p.m.). 

Boles, who is assisted by strength-and-conditioning coach Shaun Simpson, provided her outlook for each of the Raiderettes. 

Rameja Bell, sophomore, 5-11, guard/post: Bell averaged nine points per game last season and “has the potential to do big things,” Boles said. Bell played with the University of Tennessee’s Bashaara Graves during their time at Clarksville High, a basketball powerhouse, so Bell understands how to compete at a high level.

Mikayla Bennett, sophomore, 5-6, guard: Bennett is a solid outside shooter who can provide quality minutes. She moves well laterally and is a good defender.

Shanae Brown, freshman, 5-7, guard: Brown is an excellent defender, and Boles prefers to match her against the opponent’s best ball handler. “She can defend anybody,” Boles said, noting that Brown is the team’s best defender and best rebounding guard.

Shauntae Brown, freshman, 5-7, guard: Shauntae, Shanae’s sister, has great court vision and is an excellent passer. She shoots well and can drive to the basket.

Makayla Cordell, sophomore, 5-6, guard: A transfer from Hiwassee College, Cordell is a hard-worker who brings a lot of energy to the team. As Boles said, “She does not back down from anybody.” Cordell is also a great 3-point shooter and can get to the rim.

Ashley Cox, sophomore, 5-9, guard: Cox started at point guard last year. She has added more muscle and is much more aggressive. Cox is capable of beating a defender to the basket or shooting from the outside.

Kassidi Freeman, freshman, 6-1, post: Boles said Freeman tied a state record for blocked shots. A defensive-minded player, Freeman is concentrating on improving her offensive game.

Jadah Gallaher, freshman, 5-5, guard: Gallaher has quick hands and is a good ball-handler. She has a good first step, and she is developing her perimeter shooting.

Nicole Hassler, sophomore, 5-6, guard: Boles said Hassler is a crafty, intelligent player who makes good decisions. “She just knows how to play basketball,” Boles said.

Madison Laughter, freshman, 6-1, post: Boles described Laughter as “one of the most enjoyable kids I’ve coached.” Laughter is a strong player who works hard every day and, as Boles said, “always brings a positive attitude.”

Taylor Neely, sophomore, 5-4, guard: Neely has dedicated herself to becoming a better passer and has good floor vision. She is a tenacious defender and an excellent perimeter shooter.

Sarah Nixon, sophomore, 6-0, guard/post: Nixon has improved her strength and aggressiveness and can play inside or on the perimeter.

Cayla Oglesby, freshman, 5-5, guard: A quiet, hard worker, Oglesby has “ice in her veins” as a shooter. Boles said Oglesby is the best pure shooter on the team.

Danielle Slack, freshman, 5-7, guard/post: A versatile, crafty player, Slack can play inside or shoot from the perimeter. “I like her versatility and her demeanor,” Boles said. 

Joanna Young, sophomore, 5-4, guard: Young is athletic and quick. Boles said Young is becoming more aggressive offensively and is developing her outside shot.