Janna Lewis leads young Lady Bucks into 2018-19 basketball season
Coming off one of the best individual seasons in the 45-year history of women’s basketball at Motlow State Community College, sophomore Janna Lewis will be counted on to lead a freshman-dominated squad when the Lady Bucks open the 2018-19 season next week.
Motlow will open the season in Marianna, Fla., where it will face East Georgia on Nov. 1, and the host team, Chipola, Nov. 3. The Lady Bucks will play their first home game Thursday, Nov. 8, welcoming Central Georgia Tech to Copperweld Arena for a 5:30 p.m. tip off.
Lewis was spectacular last season on her way to being named Freshman of the Year in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA). As a team, the Lady Bucks finished the season, their first under Head Coach LaTanya Collins, with an 8-20 overall record and a 4-14 conference mark. Motlow won four its final seven games, including a win in the TCCAA/Region VII Tournament, before being eliminated by eventual champion Walters State.
After playing her prep basketball at Butler High School in Louisville, Lewis arrived at Motlow and made her mark as one of the top players in the TCCAA. She averaged 16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Her scoring average is 10th all-time at Motlow for a single season, while her rebounds per game is seventh all-time.
Racquel Robinson, from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, joined the squad at the holiday break last year and returns for her sophomore season.
“With such a young roster around her, Janna is going to have to lead this team both on and off the court,” said Collins. “She has worked extremely hard in the off-season, including playing in the NJCAA All-Star game. If our younger players can learn to play with the intensity and passion that Janna plays with then we should be very competitive this year. Racquel has gotten better as well, and both of them will be counted on to help these younger players learn the Motlow way.”
Collins has added a nice blend of in-state and out-of-state freshmen to build around Lewis and Robinson. The Lady Bucks will have four players 6’0 or taller, and will feature more height overall than last year’s squad.
“We are a lot more athletic than last year’s team, and obviously we have more overall team height and team speed,” added Collins. “It might take a few games to determine strengths and weaknesses, and to learn which combinations work best together, but that’s why we scheduled challenging preseason games. By the time we get into conference play I expect this team to be highly competitive.”
Two local student-athletes headline the list of incoming freshmen. Both Taylor Holcomb and Kaitlyn Thomas made the short journey from Moore County High School to Motlow, after helping lead the Raiderettes to a berth in the TSSAA state tournament last season.
Also suiting up in the green and gold this season are in-state additions Shayla McAdoo from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro and Thandiwie Sims from Lead Academy in Nashville. McAdoo is a 5’8 guard and Sims is a 6’1 post player.
Joining them are redshirt-freshman Aquria McIntyre from Durham, N.C., Kayla Jackson from Baltimore, Tanisia Murphy from Elizabethtown, Ky., Dominique Fields from Ft. Lauderdale, Azhane Bacot from Richmond, Va., and Starasia Bell-Freeman from New Bern, N.C. McIntyre, Bacot and Bell-Freeman all check in at 6’0 or taller.
“This is a strong recruiting class that I am very excited about,” added Collins. “They have shown themselves to be very coachable and have done everything that has been asked of them in the preseason. We are all excited to get the regular season underway.”
Following their Nov. 8 home opener, the Lady Bucks will host the Martin Methodist College JV team on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m. TCCAA conference play will open Nov. 16, with Jackson State visiting Copperweld Arena for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.