Chasity Welch tries to slip past LaBresha Battle with the ball Thursday. The Chattanooga State men's and women's basketball teams practiced at the college's gym Thursday afternoon. Both teams will be traveling to Kansas next week for national tournaments. Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Chattanooga State has former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s assistant coach Gerald White to thank for its best women’s basketball player, but April Woodard is far from the Lady Tigers’ only standout.
Woodard, who came to Chatt State two years after leaving Harlem (Ga.) High School, was the player of the year and the freshman of the year in NJCAA Region VII after averaging 17.6 points a game through the regular season. White runs a postseason all-star game in Augusta every year and had alerted Chattanooga State coach Jay Price to her.
Fellow freshman Hiydaayah Williams from Atlanta’s Stephenson High averaged 14.4 points, and classmate Jasmain Carey from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe was third on the team with 8.7 and was particularly effective late in the season.
“Jasmain hurt her shoulder really bad early in the season but kept playing,” said coach Jay Price, who will guide the Lady Tigers (22-6) in an NJCAA national tournament opener Wednesday afternoon in Salina, Kan.
“She and Kim Manning both injured their shoulders early on and battled all year with those injuries. They weren’t going to do any more damage to them, but they were in a lot of pain. They have been really warriors.”
Price praised the work of athletic trainer Katie Perkins in keeping the players on the court, but the team was affected somewhat. Manning, a sophomore who came from Nashville McGavock with center Sha’Cola Clay, is the team’s only true point guard.
“Our others are really 2 guards playing the point,” Price said. “We can put April at the point, but we really need her to be on the wing to free her up to score. Kim’s injury was the main reason we struggled a little bit early in the second part of the season.”
Toughness ultimately is the trademark of the Lady Tigers, and sophomore forward Chasity Welch from Fayette County, Ga., typifies that in a variety of ways.
“She hit two 3s with a minute or so to go against Walters or we wouldn’t have won the region,” Price said, “but usually she is the tough one, the mean one, when we need a defensive stop or a rebound. She does the little things. April and Hiydaayah do a lot of good things offensively, but really the backbone of the team is Kim and Chasity.”