BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Lee women’s basketball standout seniors Erin Walsh and former Sonoraville High standout Carrie Cheeks were named to All-Gulf South Conference team the league office announced on Tuesday.
Walsh, a sharpshooting guard from Knoxville, Tenn., led the Lady Flames with 12.6 points per game as was named first team all-conference for the second straight season.
Cheeks, a dominating presence in the low post and native of Ranger, Ga., was named to the All-GSC Second Team for the first time in her career. Cheeks is second in scoring on the team at 11.2 points per game and is the team leader in rebounds with 7.1 per contest.
Under the senior leadership of Walsh and Cheeks the Lady Flames finished the regular season at 22-6 and were 15-5 in the GSC. The Lady Flames have qualified for the GSC Tournament in each of their first three years of postseason eligibility.
Walsh is eighth on the all-time scoring list in programs history with 1,764 points in her illustrious career while maintaining a perfect 4.00 GPA in the classroom as a Health Science major. Cheeks has tallied 1,228 points (17th all-time) and is eighth all-time with 795 rebounds over her four-years at Lee.
Union’s senior guard Chelsea Shumpert was named the GSC Player of the Year. Shumpert leads the conference averaging 24.8 points per game.
North Alabama had a league-high three players named to the first team with sophomore guards Ivy and Emma Walden and sophomore forward Brittany Panetti. Valdosta State’s Madi Mitchell also landed on the first team. West Florida’s Halee Nieman, Union’s Jada Perkins and Valdosta State’s Kenya-Samone’ Dixon joined Cheeks on the GSC Second Team.
West Alabama’s Tazsa Garrett-Hammett was honored as the league’s top freshman while Union head coach Mark Campbell took home Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to the regular season title with an 18-2 mark.
Cheeks scores 15, but Lee falls in GSC semis
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the third straight year the Lee women’s basketball team has been eliminated from the Gulf South Conference Tournament in the semi-final round. However, the Lady Flames will likely see their season continue when the South Region pairings that were announced late Sunday.
On Saturday afternoon Lee fell to long-time rival Union University, 66-56. The Lady Bulldogs grabbed the early lead and turned back every comeback attempt by battling Lady Flames. The loss dropped Lee to 23-6 overall and Union’s NCAA Division II third-ranked club improved to 27-3.
Both teams had trouble getting their offense in gear during the first quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs managed a 12-10 advantage at the first break. Union got its offense clicking in the second stanza and grabbed a 36-24 lead at the halftime break.
The Lady Flames battled the Lady Bulldogs on even terms in the third frame (20-20) and Lee actually outscored Union in the final 10 minutes, 12-10, but it was much too late.
“Give Union credit, they were better than us again today,” explained Lee head coach Marty Rowe. “They had some people set up and give them big minutes.”
Rowe was speaking about the play of Sara Lytle (15 points), while Kyvin Goddin-Rogers and Jada Perkins chipped in with eight markers apiece. All-American Chelsey Shumpert was hard to control again and poured in 24 points.
However, free throws proved costly for the Lady Flames in their second straight meeting with the Union squad. The Lady Bulldogs marched to the charity stripe 17 times and canned 15. Lee struggled, although being awarded 22 attempts it was able to convert 13.
“Against a team like Union, you have to make free throws when the opportunity occurs,” pointed out Rowe. “I don’t have any answers but again we couldn’t make our free throws consistently.”
Rowe did praise the play of his seniors. “I thought our seniors carried us today,” he noted.
“Our younger players need to be able to play better if we’re going to have a chance against good teams this time of year”
For the game, the Lady Flames only shot 33 percent from the field and made just 3-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc. Seniors Erin Walsh and Carrie Cheeks scored 15 points apiece. Senior Shelby Brown chipped in with eight scores, resulting in 38 of Lee’s 56 points.
Cheeks also finished with a double-double (10 rebounds) despite playing just over 20 minutes before leaving with five fouls. Walsh pulled down eight as the Lady Flames out-rebounded the Lady Bulldogs, 39-31. Abby Bertram joined in the battle of the boards by claiming five. Lee had 12 turnovers and Union turned the basketball over 11 times. The winners shot 45 percent for the game and made 7-of-19 triples.
Coach Rowe and the Lady Flames will turn their attention towards the South Region play beginning next Friday, apparently being hosted by Union in Jackson, Tenn. Eight teams will take part in the region and currently Lee is ranked as the sixth best club in the South Region.
“All we can do is set back and wait to see if we get into the regional. At this point, we’ve done all we can and hopefully it’s good enough,” concluded coach Rowe.