Athletic News

Adding a Defensive Stinger

SAGU strengthens nationally ranked defense

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Sascha Lewis (seated on left) is joined by her parents and grandparents during her signing ceremony, committing to SAGU.WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team has posted three consecutive seasons of 23 or more wins. They qualified for the NAIA national tournament and the NCCAA national tourney the past two post-seasons.

After graduating three talented backcourt stars this spring, all of whom were four-year starters; opponents could make it open-season on the SAGU Lady Lions this winter.

Head Coach Arlon Beadles, with a target logo on the backs of his squad, has been recruiting ballhandlers and scorers to steer the offensive attack. SAGU’s calling card, however, has been on defense. As one of very few teams in the nation to exclusively play a zone defense, they have been among the best in shutting down the opposition.

The Purple Pride took another step towards continuing that M.O. when they announced that Sascha Lewis had signed a National Letter of Intent to suit up for Team Lioness this November.

Lewis, who stands 5’4, was a two-guard for Hudson High School. The Class 3A Lady Hornets are one of a pair of high schools in Lufkin (pop. 35,000), approximately 145 miles southeast of Waxahachie, and less than twenty miles south of Nacogdoches. 

Playing for Hudson head coach, Nigel Boyles, she not only collected her team’s Defensive Player of the Year trophy, but also the District 18 award for the same honor. She averaged 12 points per game for a team that played in the second round of the state playoffs (they fell to Madisonville, 50-43).

Lewis lays down the law

The stats she hung her hat on stood out like a kingpin in a bowling alley. Lewis latched onto an average of eight rebounds per outing, huge for someone of her height. Further proof of her desire to be a catalyst was evident in making five steals per game. She played defense as tight a lid on a honey jar.

Lewis can also shoot the three-point shot, according to Beadles. “She can nail the three like Rachel Harris,” he said of the guard who graduated this spring. Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian), in fact, netted 39 triples this past season, finishing her career with 117, mostly as a reserve sharpshooter.

We are excited about signing a guard who can hit the 3-pointer. She’s very good,” Coach Beadles stated. “Sascha is a gifted player who can help our team is so many ways.  I look forward to having her competing on our team next year.

Solid Recruiting Class

Lewis is the third recruit from East Texas this off-season; joining 6’1 center Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and 5’4 point guard Okievia Bratchett (Tenaha, Tx / Tenaha HS).

In what is shaping up to be a solid recruiting class, the Lady Lions have also signed up 5’8 small forward Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS), 5’11 power forward Brittany Griffin (Rockwall, Tx / Rockwall Christian) and 5’4 point guard Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian).

Beadles plans to land a final backcourt performer in the next week. In doing so the Lions will have adequate depth at three guard positions, providing competition and the opportunity of players with varying skills to give the team added strength.

There is always the chance a player or two may be limited due to academics or injury, so a deep bench is a big factor. How well incoming players make the jump up from high school to college is another issue.

More on Okievia Bratchett

The speedy Bratchett was featured in an on-line article that may be of interest to Lions fans. Sports Editor John Krueger, who also covers athletics for Stephen F. Austin University, wrote the article.

SAGU’s Defense is “In the Zone”

Coach Beadles’ defense unleashes carnivorous ballhawks that have simultaneously fueled an efficient SAGU offense. Utilizing a number of zone packages and various trapping styles, the Lady Lions have made life miserable for many enemy offenses. The results have lifted SAGU to three upper-echelon finishes in the RRAC.

It is also no accident that Beadles’ teams have been well coached and are quite disciplined. In each of the past three seasons they have had less fouls called against them than any team in the league. This past season saw SAGU called for 15.1 personal fouls, after being cited for 15.8 in the 2009-10 season and 15.6 in 2008-09.

Added to that, the ‘Cats cash in on opponents’ fouls. They led the RRAC in team free throw percentage last year (.695), after making .697 and .656 the previous two season – which were third best.

Like trying to wash a window with a mudball, the opposition is often very frustrated against Team Purple.  Not only do they rank near the top in the Red River Athletic Conference, SAGU is among the best in the country in the NAIA.

A look at the numbers shows just how well Southwestern plays their version of zone defense.

YEAR RECORD PTS YIELD FG PCT STEALS BLOCKS
2010-11 23-13 59.4 (#20) .363 (#15) 11.6 (#16) 1.5 (#103)
2009-10 25-8 55.3 (#4) .348 (#5) 12.0 (#4) 2.9 (#42)
2008-09 24-8 49.6 (#2) .303 (#1) 9.3 (#57) 4.1 (#9)
Key: SAGU's won-lost record. Points Yield/Allowed (per game). FG Pct. is the percentage of shots made by opponents. Steals by SAGU defense per game. Opponents' shots blocked by SAGU per game. The number in parenthesis is where SAGU ranked nationally by the NAIA's Division I (116 schools)

Players whose prowess on defense led to such lofty rankings were Shaquita Roberts (99 blocked shots in 2009), Nicole Linen (led nation in steals in 2010 at 3.9 spg), Chelsea Jones (led RRAC in steals in 2011 at 3.5 spg) and the play of Heather Jefferson and Stephanie Hawkins and others. Roberts has missed most of the past two years due to injury. She will return this season.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.
 
 

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