Santa Fe Hoops Seasons Tip Off Thursday
GAINESVILLE- Coming off one of the best season in Santa Fe College men’s basketball history, the Saints are starting from scratch in 2012-13, returning just one player from their Mid-Florida Conference championship squad.
The 2011-12 Saints finished 26-5 and advanced to the FCSAA State Final Four, garnering a #10 final national ranking. The lone player back is sophomore Roody St. Germain who appeared in just four games. St. Germain is an outstanding athlete who will be one of the best defenders and rebounders for SF.
The 2012-13 version of the Saints open the season on November 1 and 2 in the SF Tip-off Classic. On Thursday, November 1 they battle St. Thomas JV at 8:00 PM and on Friday, November 2 host Rise Academy (Philadelphia, PA) at 6:00 PM.
This year’s team features five transfers and seven freshman. The transfers are led by 5-10 guard Bobby Hunter. Hunter was the MVP of the NAIA II National Tournament as a member of the national championship team, Oregon Tech. He was also selected as a 1st Team All-American, the only freshman or sophomore on the 1st team. He averaged just over 20 points and five assists a game.
Also in the backcourt is Buchholz HS grad Chad Milliken, a 5-10 FR. His 3pt shooting and savvy play will be needed throughout the year. Adding fire power to the backcourt will be sharpshooter Pat Kearney 6-1, a transfer from St. John’s River State College, and 6-3 Deonte Moore, a transfer from Warner University.
Freshman guard Bruno Bogut, 6-4, from Zagreb, Croatia is rounding into playing shape after missing a month with knee tendonitis. Bogut has tremendous passing ability, and is a solid shooter. Up front, 6-5 Andrea Robinson will start in the post. Robinson is a physical player with high energy and raw offensive skills. Also in the post will be 6-8 Djordje Vidosavljevic, from Kursumlija, Serbia. SF is counting on him to continue to improve his strength and scoring ability inside.
Two other freshman forwards will contribute for the Saints, 6-7 Takija Knight and 6-5 Jordan Banks. Both are long, athletic players with good defense and rebounding abilities.
Head Coach Chris Mowry begins his 10th season with a 184-84 record, the most wins in the history of SF men’s basketball. He is realistic and optimistic when discussing the year ahead.
“It is an exciting time of year for our team as we open up the regular season this week,” said Mowry. “We will certainly be a team that needs to improve daily in practice throughout the year if we want to compete successfully in our conference. I like our team, we have a few players who can be really good for us, and we will continue to work hard to develop the chemistry, and intensity needed to be a competitive team every game.”
Meanwhile, last season, the Santa Fe Saints women’s basketball program had just two returning players and a plethora of freshman. The results, as expected were a mixed bag, with at times flashes of brilliance followed by the inevitable struggles of a young, inexperienced team.
“I really thought we turned a corner last year with a good wins over Gulf Coast and Chipola, but we just couldn't overcome our youth,” said SF Coach Chanda Stebbins. “They didn't pay huge dividends as expected last year but I can really see how this year’s team has grown from those tough experiences and the good wins.”
The nine returning players from last year’s 10-20 team used the experiences and lessons learned in 2011-12 to make huge strides over the offseason and through the preseason. Most of the players may be the same, but fans will see a different Saints squad when they take the floor at home on Thursday against Palm Beach State College at 6:00 PM in the SF Tip-off Classic and again on Friday against Miami-Dade College at 4:00 PM.
“Opening week games are always fun and exciting for both teams,” said Stebbins. “I’m sure Palm Beach and Miami are ready and fired up for their trip to Gainesville, and our young ladies are going to have a good early test.”
Key returners for SF include forward Taybreanna Couch (5.6 ppg. 5.0 rpg), guard Tiara Thompson (8.6 ppg) and local standout from Eastside High School, Lonna Turner (3.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Also returning to bolster the Santa Fe lineup are two 6’0” posts from Canada, Lydia Cuff and Shanice Clark. Guards Miracle Watts, Monique Bunk, Raquitta Gooden, Ezra Wallace and Oneisha Davis round out the returners.
Transfers Kaitlynn Pacholke (Jacksonville State) and Paulina Zaveckaite (USC-Upstate) will be expected to make an immediate impact. Zaveckaite started 25 games for NCAA Division I USC-Upstate last season, averaging 6.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Highly recruited freshman Shaquita Snow (Orange Park) and Jaquasha Sesler (Wildwood) complete the Saints roster.
“I'm so excited about our personnel this year,” Stebbins said. “They have responded to every demand and are really showing their maturity. I like our work ethic on the court and in the classroom. Our maturity is also providing bonuses in the area of team chemistry.”
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