FORT MYERS, Fla. – The No. 18 Florida SouthWestern State College women’s basketball team saw head coach Kristie Ward and five student-athletes receive postseason accolades.
Coach Ward and freshman Tina Stephens were named Suncoast Conference Coach and Player of the Year, respectively. Stephens and sophomore LaToya Ashman garnered spots on the NJCAA All-Region VIII/FCSAA All-State team. FSW was also represented on the Suncoast Conference’s First Team by Stephens, Ashman and sophomores Erna Normil and Kiara Meeks. The Purple and Aqua also garnered one Second Team selection as sophomore Amanda Oliver was named to the squad.
Head coach Kristie Ward and the Buccaneers wrapped up the 2017-18 regular season with 25-5 overall record (8-1 Suncoast Conference). The Purple and Aqua, ranked No. 4 in the final NJCAA Region 8 Coaches’ Poll, earned the program’s first Suncoast Conference championship and secured their second consecutive berth to the NJCAA District VIII Championship. The Bucs also won 11 of their last 12 games to close the regular season and are one of two schools in the state with both its men’s and women’s basketball teams represented in the State Tournament (Eastern Florida).
As a team, the purple and aqua rank 12th nationally in points (2,396), but they also rank in the top 50 nationally in multiple categories, including points per game (79.9; 17th), offensive rebounds per game (17.1; 19th), field goal percentage (44.6 percent; 20th), total rebounds per game (44.8; 25th), blocks per game (4.6; 27th) and steals per game (11.9; 42nd).
Stephens, a three-time Region 8 Player of the Week and NJCAA National Player of the Week honoree (Jan. 24), led the Bucs in scoring (14.1 points) and field goal percentage (53.9 percent) and ranked second on the team in rebounds (8.1). In conference play, the Palmetto, Fla. native stepped up her production, averaging a double-double (18.0 points and 10.1 rebounds), while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor and 83.0 percent from the charity stripe. Stephens, who has 10 double-doubles on the season, has scored in double figures in 21 of the 30 games, including 15+ points on 13 occasions.
Ashman, a 2017 Southern Conference All-Conference First Team selection, has started 26 of the 30 games for the Bucs this season and shot 44.4 percent from the field, while averaging 13.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. The Wellington, Fla. native has scored in double figures 24 times this season, highlighted by a 25-point performance against Miami Dade (Jan. 8). In Suncoast Conference action, Ashman increased her point production (14.7 points) and shot a team-best 43.6 percent from long distance. The owner of the program’s first and only triple-double (at Miami Dade on Jan. 28, 2017; 19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), Ashman has scored 873 points during her career at FSW.
Normil has had a solid sophomore campaign with averages of 13.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. In conference play, the Lake Worth, Fla. native averaged 13.9 points and 5.6 boards per contest. She has pulled down 5+ rebounds on 20 occasions and scored in double figures in 23 games, including 15+ points on 13 occasions. Normil, a 2017 Southern Conference All-Conference First Team selection, has scored 891 points in her two-year stint with the Purple and Aqua.
Meeks, who only appeared in eight games last season due to injury, has been solid at the point guard position for the Bucs this year. She’s started 24 of 30 games and shot 49.7 percent from the field, while averaging 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. During conference play, the Lake Worth, Fla. native averaged 9.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists. She’s scored in double figures 12 times, including tying her career-high with 20 points in the Suncoast Conference championship-clinching game vs. Eastern Florida (Feb. 17).
A workhorse for the Bucs, Oliver has started every game this season and averages 6.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. She continued her balanced play during conference competition and averaged 7.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. An Orlando, Fla. native, Oliver has pulled down double digit rebounds on 11 occasions, including a season-high 17 boards against College of Central Florida (Jan. 3). The 2017 Southern Conference All-Conference First Team member has tallied four double-doubles this season and now has 12 for her career.
The FSW women's squad will return to action on Thursday, March 8 (1 p.m.) against Santa Fe (No. 2 seed from the Mid-Florida Conference) in the quarterfinals of 2018 FCSAA/NJCAA District VIII Women's Basketball Championship, while FSW men will start tournament play on Wednesday, March 7 at (1 p.m.) and will also face the No. 2 team from the Mid-Florida Conference (College of Central Florida). If the teams advance, they'll play on Friday (March 9) and possibly Saturday (March 10) for the State Championship.
FSW will charter a bus for each Buccaneer men's and women's game at the tournament. The cost of each trip is just $15 per person and does not include a ticket to the game. Tickets will be available in session (two games per session) or a full tournament pass. Session tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, while Tournament Passes are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Kids 3 and under will be admitted free.
Fans wanting to sign up for the bus trip, should call (239) 489-9432. Spots are LIMITED and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and in order to make each trip happen a minimum of 25 signups is needed.
2018 FSW POSTSEASON AWARD WINNERS
Suncoast Conference Coach of the Year: Kristie Ward
Suncoast Conference Player of the Year: Tina Stephens
NJCAA All-Region VIII/FCSAA All-State: Tina Stephens, LaToya Ashman
1st Team All-Suncoast Conference: Tina Stephens, LaToya Ashman, Erna Normil, Kiara Meeks
2nd Team All-Suncoast Conference: Amanda Oliver
FOLLOW THE BUCS
For the latest news on FSW Athletics, log on to FSWBucs.com or stay connected to the Bucs on social media. Follow the Buccaneers on Twitter @FSWBucs, on Instagram @FSWBucs, on Facebook at Facebook.com/FSWBucs and on Snapchat at BucsSnaps.
SUNCOAST CREDIT UNION ARENA
The Buccaneers compete in the brand new Suncoast Credit Union Arena. Suncoast Credit Union Arena is approximately 75,000 square feet and is home to the FSW basketball teams and a student athletic center. The arena seats approximately 3,300 fans and includes six skyboxes, a hospitality event center, competition courts that convert into recreational courts, athletic office space, student, faculty and staff wellness, and an athletic center with a fitness pavilion, men's and women's locker rooms and a weight training area. The arena has two Daktronics displays, on the north and south walls, that each measure 10 feet high by 20 feet wide. Both displays incorporate variable content zoning to each show one large image or they can be divided into multiple windows to show any variety of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsorship messages. One-hundred feet of ribbon displays have been installed on the east and west walls of the arena. The ribbons provide the opportunity to supplement the content on the main displays as well as highlight sponsors throughout events.
The Florida SouthWestern State College athletic program is a member of the Florida College System Athletic Association (FCSAA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The Buccaneers are one of 25 schools in the NJCAA Region 8 and are one of six schools in the Suncoast Conference. Florida SouthWestern State College currently supports four intercollegiate athletic programs (Baseball, Softball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball).
Baseball and Softball began their regular season competition in 2016 at the City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. Located on the Thomas Edison (Lee) Campus in Fort Myers is the brand new Suncoast Credit Union Arena (completed in fall 2016), where FSW’s men’s and women’s basketball teams compete.
The movement to form a unique sports association dedicated to America’s two-year colleges arose in 1937 when several track and field coaches gathered in Fresno, California. A year later, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rejected a petition from 13 two-year colleges in California to grant their teams and athletes permission to compete at the NCAA Track & Field Championships.
In the spring of 1938, following the NCAA’s rejection, those same 13 two-year colleges gathered again in Fresno to organize and form an association that would promote and supervise a national athletics program exclusively for junior and community colleges…and the rest is history.
On May 14, 1938, the first constitution of the National Junior College Athletic Association was accepted by its charter members and the organization held its first national championship event a year later in May 1939.
The NJCAA has played a vital role in collegiate athletics for the past eight decades and continues to be the leader in championing academic and athletic opportunities for student-athletes. This section of the association's website is dedicated to celebrating the NJCAA's rich history and tradition as the national governing body of two-year college athletics.
For more information on the NJCAA log on to www.NJCAA.org.
The Florida College System Activities Association, Incorporated (FCSAA) is a statewide non‑profit corporation regulating, coordinating, and promoting intercollegiate activities in: Athletics, Brain Bowl, Forensics, Music, Student Government, Student Publications, and Theatre.
Membership in the Florida College System Activities Association is open to any of the 28 colleges in the Florida College System. Each member institution is represented in the policy‑making deliberations of the Association through that institution's President or other designated representative. The institutional representatives constitute the FCSAA Presidents Assembly, the ultimate authority in FCSAA.
For more information on the FCSAA log on to www.TheFCSAA.com.
NJCAA REGION 8 & THE SUNCOAST CONFERENCE
Member colleges of the NJCAA are allotted to a specific NJCAA Region upon membership to the association. Unlike other collegiate organizations that defer to conference affiliation, the NJCAA guarantees each member college's membership within the regional structure of the association. In most cases, region assignment is based upon geographic location of the college.
The region structure of the NJCAA is the primary method used by all sponsored sports of the association in determining qualification for national championship tournaments. In certain sports, two or more regions are partnered to form a competition 'district', which is then used for national championship qualification. The organization of districts varies per sport and is formulated every two years under the authority of the association's board of directors.
FSW is in Region 8 and is joined by ASA College Miami (Region 8 only; non-FCSAA member), Broward College, Chipola College, College of Central Florida, Daytona State College, Eastern Florida State College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Gulf Coast State College, Hillsborough Community College, Indian River State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Miami Dade College, Northwest Florida State College, Palm Beach State College, Pasco-Hernando State College, Pensacola State College, Polk State College, Santa Fe College, Seminole State College of Florida, South Florida State College, St. Johns River State College, St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota and Tallahassee Community College.
The Bucs are also in the Suncoast Conference with Hillsborough Community College, Polk State College, South Florida State College, St. Petersburg College and State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. The women’s basketball program is also in the Suncoast Conference, but with only three other teams (Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College and Eastern Florida State College).
For more information on Region 8 log on to www.TheFCSAASports.com.