Men’s Basketball

Tech grabs top spot in preseason poll

RUSSELLVILLE —The Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys basketball team has been picked to finish first in the Great American Conference coaches poll this season, announced by the league office today.

Tech gathered 97 points and seven first place votes to lead the poll for their second straight year. Harding, who shared the regular season title with Tech last season, was picked second with 91 votes and three first place votes and Southeastern Oklahoma third with 68 votes. Last year’s tournament champion, Ouachita Baptist, was picked fifth with 54 votes.

The Wonder Boys advanced to the regional tournament for the fifth straight time last year with an 18-12 (13-7 GAC) record. Tech will return four seniors to the court including Kendall Pinkney, Jay Murphy, Bobby Hatchett, and the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Charles Mells.

The Wonder Boys will open their season Nov. 1 with an exhibition game at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas. They play their first regular-season game on Nov. 8 against Lincoln University in Bolivar, Mo.

Harding grabs second in GAC poll

RUSSELLVILLE — Coming off consecutive Great American Conference regular-season titles, Arkansas Tech emerged as the preseason favorite following a vote of the league’s 11 coaches, the conference office announced on Tuesday.

Harding, which tied for the GAC regular-season championship and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament, was picked second.

The Wonder Boys shared the top spot in the GAC a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight season. While they must replace their three double-digit scorers — Willie Kirkland, Jared Williamson and Will Paul — they do return the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Mells. Mells led the GAC with 64 blocked shots.

Harding brings back a pair of sophomores — Tony Cochran and Andraz Kavas — that played a major role in the Bisons success last year. Cochran, the GAC’s Freshman of the Year, averaged 8.7 points and made 41.9 percent from the 3-point arc. Kavas added 7.3 points per game and shot 49.7 percent from the floor. They also return senior Hayden Johnson, who averaged 11.3 points per game, and senior starting point guard Weston Jameson, who led the GAC in assist-to-turnover ratio as a junior.

Weevils earn fourth-place pick

RUSSELLVILLE — The University of Arkansas at Monticello men’s basketball team has been picked to finish in fourth place in the 2013-14 season, announced today in the Great American Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.

The Boll Weevils received 60 poll points, eight points behind third place prediction Southeastern Oklahoma State and seven points ahead of fifth-place pick Ouachita Baptist, the defending conference tournament champion.

The preseason coaches poll was voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.

The Boll Weevils finished the 2012-13 season with a 16-11 overall record and an 11-9 conference record for a third place finish. UAM four letter winners from last season and two starters, including senior post Dayton Mickens, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in 27 games last season.

The Weevils open the 2013-14 season in the Delta State Regional Crossover Tournament Nov. 9-10 in Cleveland, Miss. UAM plays Eckerd College on Nov. 9 and follows with Florida Southern on Nov. 10. The first home game of the 2013-14 season is Nov. 16 against Champion Baptist College.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Coaches choose Harding to win GAC

RUSSELLVILLE — Harding edged out Southwestern Oklahoma State to claim the top spot in the Great American Conference’s women’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll, the conference office announced on Tuesday.

The Lady Bisons went 19-9 last season and they return all five starters for 2013-14. Kristen Celsor led Harding in scoring at 14.9 points per game. Celsor and Arielle Saunders tied for fourth in the GAC in rebounding, averaging 8.2 per game. Saunders finished third in the GAC with 60 blocked shots. Shana Holmes gave the Lady Bisons a third double-figure scorer at 13.0 per game.

Golden Suns earn third in preseason poll

RUSSELLVILLE — The Arkansas Tech Golden Suns are predicted to finish third in the Great American Conference in 2013-14, according to the coaches’ poll released by the GAC today.

Arkansas Tech collected 81 points in the coaches’ poll, including one first-place vote. Southwestern Oklahoma State earned second place with 92 points and four first-place votes. Harding was picked to win the conference with 95 points and six first-place votes.

Back on the hardwood this season are sophomore forward Caroline Eubanks, one of the leading rebounders for the Golden Suns averaging 6.3 per game, sophomore guard Cara Neighbors, who averaged 4.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game, and junior forward Jae Tucker.

The Golden Suns finished the 2012-13 season 23-7 overall and 17-3 in conference. They won the conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where they fell in the first round to Minnesota State-Mankato.

Arkansas Tech must replace some big starters from last season. Rosie Silva, who earned a laundry list of postseason honors, being named Third Team All-American, Daktronics All-Region Second Team, First Team All-GAC, All-Tournament Team, GAC Player of the Year, and GAC Defensive Player of the Year. Also, Jessica Weatherford who earned First Team All-GAC.

Arkansas Tech will open up play at home on Friday, Nov. 8 against Central Baptist.

Coaches pick Blossoms to finish 8th

RUSSELLVILLE — The University of Arkansas at Monticello women’s basketball team has been picked to finish eighth in the 2013-14 season, announced today in the Great American Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.

The Cotton Blossoms received 36 poll points, eight points behind seventh place prediction Southeastern Oklahoma State and five points ahead of ninth-place prediction Henderson State.

Harding was selected as the preseason favorite with 95 poll points and six of the 11 first place votes. Southwestern Oklahoma State is second in the preseason poll with four first place votes.

The league’s 11 head coaches voted on the poll and were not allowed to vote for their own team.

The Cotton Blossoms finished the 2012-13 season at 6-21 overall and 3-17 in the GAC for a No. 8 seed in the conference championship tournament, where the team nearly upset No. 1 seed Arkansas Tech in the first round, falling 68-62 in overtime.

UAM returns six letter winners from last season and two starters, includinglast year’s GAC Freshman of the Year, Jordan Goforth, who averaged 12.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 27 games last season.

The Blossoms open the 2013-14 season with an exhibition contest against Arkansas State on Nov. 4. The first home game of the season is, Nov. 9 against Lindenwood (Mo.) University.