MORROW — It hasn’t always been a smooth road this season for the Clayton State women’s basketball team as the Lakers have had to replace several key players.
But the one constant that coach Dennis Cox has been able to count on his been senior Shamarca Jackson.
And that should come as no surprise that Jackson has been a main fixture in the team’s current four-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s game against Lander.
Jackson, the last holdover from the 2011 NCAA national title team, has averaged 20 points during the four-game streak. She comes into the 1:30 p.m. contest with a 15.8 scoring average on the season. The Marietta native is also averaging a team-leading 7.5 rebounds.
“She is the constant player,” Cox said a couple weeks ago about his standout post player. “She is consistently giving us a great effort every night. She has been the mainstay on this team, and she is playing like an all-league player.”
Clayton State enters the game with a 12-5 overall record and and 7-3 in the Peach Belt Conference. The Lakers are coming off an impressive 88-70 win over then 19th-ranked North Georgia. In that game, Jackson had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Lander enters Saturday’s game with an 8-11 overall record and a 3-7 mark in the league. The Bearcats are coming off a 79-76 loss to Georgia Southwestern on Thursday.
The young Bearcat team has nine freshman and sophomores on the roster and features a balanced scoring attack with four players in double-digits. The squad has been led by guard Kayla West averaging 13 points per game, followed by forwards Alexis Armstrong and Portia McCray at 11 points per game. Guard Ty’Hesha Reynolds averages 10 points per game.
Clayton State leads 17-8 in the all-time series against and defeated the Bearcats 88-54 last year in Greenwood, S.C.
The Lakers current win streak is a reflection how an inexperienced team, with only one starter back from a year ago, has grown over the course of the season.
“We had no choice but to grow,” Cox said. “This team has too much character to fold.”
In the men’s game, the Lakers enter the contest with a 6-11 overall record and a 2-8 mark in conference play. The Lakers are coming off a tough 84-81 loss to North Georgia on last Saturday.
Lander comes in with a 13-6 overall record and a 7-3 mark in the league. The Bearcats are one the hottest teams in the Peach Belt, having won nine of their last 10 and six in a row. Lander is coming off 62-58 win over Georgia Southwestern on Thursday.
The Lakers currently have four players averaging in double digits with senior forward Charles Shedrick leading the way at 17 points per contest. Senior guard Craig Wong is averaging 12 points per game, followed by senior forward Omari Murray averaging 12 points and seven boards. Sophomore guard Sirdarius Henry averages 11 points per game.
Lander has been led so far this year by the senior duo of wing Jareal Smith and guard Michael Panaggio, each averaging 14 points per game. Center Dermaine Smith and wing J.R. Washington each average 10 points per game.
Clayton State leads 14-7 in the all-time series against Lander and defeated the Bearcats 52-48 last year.