Lady Tornado to Host Converse in First Conference Home Game


King Tornado
(0-10, 0-2 Conference Carolinas)


Converse Valkeries
(1-9, 1-0 Conference Carolinas)

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Game 11  |  Jan. 5, 2012
Student Center Complex  |  Bristol, Tenn.



King lost their tenth straight out of the gate as they jumped back into conference play at North Greenville on Jan. 3, 68-47.  King trailed by only nine points heading into the half, 30-21, before allowing 38 second-half points to the Crusaders. King limited their miscues on the court, turning the ball over fewer times than NGU (19-22) and matching the Trojans in rebounding (48 each), but the hosts shot 43 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from behind the arc to create the difference in the game. The Lady Tornado shot only 26.9 percent from the field and went 0-for-18 from three-point land. 

Converse is also struggling in their season thusfar, sporting a 1-9 overall mark. That one win, however, came in conference play against the Erskine Flying Fleet on Nov. 29 in a 69-63 decision in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In that game, guard Kayla Garrett scored 24 points and went 5-for-6 from distance and team shot 44.8 percent. On the season, Converse is is 0-5 on the road and overall is being outscored 76.0-50.4 on the year. Garrett leads the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg and is hitting 52.8 percent of her shots from three-point land and 44.8 percent of shots from the field. Samira Gillcrese is one of two 6-footers on the Valkerie roster and is leading the team in rebounds per game (7.7) and league-leading blocks (17). Avery Winchester stands at 6-foot, 7-inches but plays only 13.0 mpg in a reserve role with limited scoring capabilities. Like King, Converse has shown its share of struggles shooting in all three areas. They shoot 29.5 percent from the field, 24.4 percent from three and only 59.0 percent from the free throw line. They are also being outscored nearly by double their offensive output in the second half, 413-260 (41.3-26.0).

The Lady Tornado begin a six-game, two-on-two-off stretch beginning with a pair of home games that start today. They play their first Conference Carolina home game today against Converse College followed by Community Day on Jan. 7 against East Conference favorite Mount Olive. Their game against the Trojans will mark the first basketball doubleheader at the Student Center Complex this season before they take to the road for a pair against Belmont Abbey (Jan. 10) and Coker (Jan. 14).

In appreciate for the continued support of the Tornado fanbase, King will host Community Day on January 7 as a part of a basketball doublheader against Mount Olive University. Admission will be waived and contests will be held throughout the course of the day to allow for prizes for all those who attend. Included in that array of prizes is a set of (2) tickets to attend both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17-18. A drawing will be held at the game with the winner to be determined at halftime of the men's game. Entrants must register before the end of halftime of the women's game to be eligible. The Lady Tornado open the action at 2pm with the men scheduled to begin at 4pm.

Guard Brooke Johnson is currently leading the Tornado in scoring, falling just short of the 10-point per game plateau (9.6). The junior leads the team in field goal (100), three-point (45) and free throw (31) attempts to serve as their primary option to score.

Junior guard Mikki Oliver has helped her team in a role that may not get her many starts but her minutes played and contributions in that time are unquestionable. Oliver has started only one of the team's 10 games this season but averages 20.6 minutes per game to lead all non-starters in minutes played. She is averaging 9.2 ppg, second-best on the team, and leads the team in three-point shooting percentage (.522) on 12-of-23 from deep. She is also second on the teamin assists (16) and is tied for third in steals (9).

Freshman Alley Sprouse made a splash in the scoring column for the Tornado early, posting three 10+ point games in her first five games of the season. She hit the 10-point plateau in three straight games from 11/16 to 11/29, falling just one rebound shy of her first career double-double against Limestone (11/29). Sprouse managed five or more rebounds in five of the team's first six games. She was held out of the Tornado's game against Mars Hill (Dec. 6) due to injury but has since returned to average 7.0 ppg in her last two contests, In her return against Mars Hill, she went 3-for-3 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line with 10 points in the loss to the Lady Lions.

King has struggled finding an offensive rhythm early this season but came out of the gate shooting lights out against Lincoln Memorial in an 82-69 loss. The Tornado shot 41.9 percent from the field and hit 15 threes on 25 attempts (.600) in that game. Since then, the team's shooting percentage has leveled off as the team has not reached 35 percent in the last two games. King has seen five different high scorers in its six games. The Tornado averaged 61.0 ppg while allowing a shade under 80.0 ppg to their opponents.

Before the beginning of the season the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll was released with King ranking eighth in the 12-team league. The Tornado tied for the eight spot with North Greenville receiving 46 points each in the poll. In the West Division, King stacks up tied for fourth, again with North Greenville. Barton (East) and Limestone (West) rank at the top of each division and are ranked first and second, respectively.

The Tornado introduced a new head coach on July 15 when Josh Thompson was named head coach of the women's basketball team. Thompson spent nine years at Nyack College (Nyack, N.Y.) where he turned around the Warriors program that had never reached the 20-win plateau before his arrival. From 2002-10, Thompson was the head coach and led the Warriors from NAIA to NCAA Division II status, such as the path the Tornado just completed. In 2009, Nyack claimed the NCCAA East Region Championship while Thompson earned Region Coach of the Year honors. In his final season at Nyack, he helped the Warriors to a 21-win season and clinched the program's first-ever NCAA National Tournament appearance.