The Clarion women’s basketball team is looking for improvement in 2015-2016 coming off of a difficult season.
In Jana Ashley’s first year at the helm, the Golden Eagles finished with an overall record of 2-25 and a 1-21 mark in the PSAC-West.
Heading into her second year, Ashley will be relying on key returning players as well as some newcomers.
Holmes, the leading scorer from last season, will again be looked at to lead the team as the only senior on the roster.
The PSAC-West preseason poll had Holmes on the preseason all-conference team.
“I look for Tania to have a strong season, but we want to take the scoring pressure off of her shoulders,” Ashley said. “Last year when Tania wasn’t scoring, we struggled to get any offense going, but with the depth we have this year I feel that won’t be an issue.”
Holmes averaged 15.6 points per game last season, recording 61 steals and 89 assists.
She heads into her final season with 835 career points, 218 assists, 259 rebounds and 151 steals.
Jones-Carey, who will look to contribute offensively and on the boards, nearly averaged a double-double last season.
She averaged 12 PPG and eight rebounds, while recording 17 steals during the 2014-2015 season.
“We know Delrika is going to fight to get every rebound and will lead our team in rebounds by seasons end,” Ashley said. “I think she could get a double-double every night.”
Harden Pulliam, a 27 game starter who played the point guard most of the season last year will also look to contribute.
She finished her freshman season last year with 4.8 PPG, 81 assists, 42 steals and 54 rebounds.
Other players returning from last year’s team who will look to make an impact are junior forward Jen Straw and sophomore guard Leslie Hoye.
Last year, Straw averaged 4.4 PPG and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Hoye averaged 1.2 PPG at the conclusion of her freshman season.
Junior college transfers guard Tyra Polite and guard Stevie Ray, will also be looked upon to contribute immediately.
Polite, a junior transfer from Kirkwood CC, was a second team-all region selection averaging 9.7 PPG and 7.3 assists per game last year.
Ray, a junior transfer from Mohawk Valley CC, was a first team-all conference and all-region player in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
She averaged 17 PPG and five assists last year.
“Stevie Ray is a knockdown shooter,” Ashley said. “When you think she’s too far out past the three point line and give her space, she can pull up and knock it down.”
Another player who will have a huge impact on the team this year is freshman guard Jordan Bekelja, who was named a team captain along with Holmes and Jones-Carey.
In high school, she was a four year starter who was voted All-Ohio and averaged 10 PPG with four assets and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Coach Ashley is looking forward to a competitive season.
“I think we will be much more competitive every game. I’m not sure how that will translate to wins, but we believe if we play to our capabilities, those things will take care of themselves,” she said.
The team will start its season at the WVSU Tournament in Charleston, West Virginia this Friday.
Clarion’s first game in the WVSU tournament will be against West Virginia State, tipoff is at 5 p.m.