Attempting to replace the majority of a team that graduated after going to the NJCAA Women’s National Tournament last season has kept Crowder women’s basketball coach Tina Robbins and assistant Melanie Bowers busy this summer.
But their relentless work since the conclusion of last season is starting to reap results as the Lady ‘Riders inked three more recruits, two guards and a center, to help anchor the squad next season.
With their tallest player standing at 6-foot last season, the Lady ‘Riders will have a little more length in the paint this season after signing 6’2 center Mariana Silva, who prepped at Escola Estadual Sonia Maria Pereira in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“Mariana is a true post player that has the ability to step out and score from the perimeter,” Robbins said. “She has good size and strength and will be a force inside for us.”
The guards, Tiffany Rhame (5’5, Farmington, Ark.) and Jessica Patterson (5’6, Tulsa, Okla.) are expected to provide talent and much-needed depth at the guard position this season.
Under coach Brad Johnson at Farmington High School, Rhame helped guide her team to a 20-9 record last season while averaging eight points, 5.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. She is a two-time all-conference and two-time KURM Dream Team recipient, as well as earning a selection to the All-Northwest Arkansas Media Team. Rhame helped lead her team to the Arkansas 4A State Championship and a No. 2 state ranking during her junior campaign.
Patterson, meanwhile, helped lead her team to a 23-5 mark under head coach Rabu Leyva at Tulsa Memorial High School last season. A two-year starter, Patterson was part of three state qualifying teams at Memorial, where she helped lead the team to a regional title, area consolation and state quarterfinals. She also was named honorable mention All-Metro by the Tulsa World, and was honorable mention All-Green Country Conference.
She finished second on her high school team last season with 6.5 points, 3.62 assists and 2.58 steals per game.
“We are very excited about all three of these young ladies,” Robbins said. “Tiffany comes from a great program and has been a leader on her team for three years. She can play any of the guard spots and has the ability to score and create for her teammates.
“Jessica led her team to an outstanding season this year. She can play any of the guard spots, as well. She is very athletic and is very good at getting to the basket.”
While they are gaining three players, one former Lady ‘Rider has decided where she’ll move on to next season. Veronica Amos, the tallest player on the team last year, has signed with Texas A&M International in Laredo, Texas.
Page 2 of 2 - Despite an injury-filled sophomore campaign, Amos helped the Lady ‘Riders in their 29-6 campaign by averaging 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 24 games. When healthy, she was a force for Crowder.
“Veronica had and injury plagued season, but when she was able to play she was very effective for us,” Robbins said. “Getting her back at the end of the season definitely helped us win a Region 16 Championship and earn a trip to the National Tournament.”