By Chuck Tidmore
Sports Information Assistant
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon women's basketball team finished up its final practice of the preseason on Wednesday and is set to open the regular season on Friday.
The Lady Hawks will face Hilbert College in the Jackie Ammons Memorial Tournament on Friday in Raleigh, N.C. Game time is set for 5 p.m. central.
Head coach Buzz Phillips enters his 11th season as head coach for Huntingdon. Phillips said that he and assistant coach Paige Huff will use this weekend to learn more about their team.
"The big thing is chemistry. I want to see how the girls play together in adverse situations," Phillips said. "We're going to be in situations this weekend where we may go ahead by ten points or behind by ten points. I want to see how the team will respond to situations like those.
"I believe we can be pretty good. We're going to have to play as a team and protect leads late in the game, which hurt us last year."
"Those four have been with the program for four years and their leadership has been very good since the start of our strength and conditioning program and our team camp this past month," Phillips said. "I feel like they have a goal in mind as seniors to end their careers successfully and make it to the conference tournament. Off the court they have been successful and they will walk away with a college degree."
The Lady Hawks will look to the post this season, as Juliette Harp enters her junior season. Harp was a second-team All-Conference selection last season and set the Huntingdon single-season record for blocks with 59.
Harp led the conference with 12 rebounds per game and 2.8 blocks per game and was fifth in scoring with 14.5 points per game while shooting 56%, which was second best in the conference.
"It makes all the difference having her down low," Phillips said. "We have to look inside more this season and get her the ball when she's open. A lot of these games will come down to big plays and Juliette can make several big plays for us."
The Lady Hawks were picked fifth in the West Division with the release of the USA South Athletic Conference preseason basketball poll in mid-October. The institutions in the West Division are Agnes Scott, Covenant, Huntingdon, LaGrange, Maryville, Piedmont, Salem and Wesleyan. Each team will play each other twice throughout the season.
"I'm all for the new divisions within the USA South," Phillips said. "It cuts our travel down, which I think hurt us a bit last year. The top six teams from each division make the conference tournament but the draw-back is that you may end up facing an East team which you don't know much about."
Huntingdon will have 11 out of conference games this season. The Lady Hawks open their home schedule on Nov. 29 against Pensacola Christian.