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Northwest Florida women’s basketball team preparing to defend national title

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The Northwest Florida women’s team is looking to keep the ball rolling so to speak, as they work through the preseason this month. The Raiders coming off an incredible 2021 season which saw the team rack up a 24-2 record on the way to the program’s first national championship. And there’s every reason to believe coach Walker and his team, are poised to make another strong run in 22!

“Well having several returners, seven players that played on that team last year, you know we have some culture and some expectations.” Northwest head coach Bart Walker tells us. “Obviously it’s something we share (the title) for a lifetime together now. And we’re trying not to be satisfied or complacent. We’re trying to work hard every day and keep that hunger and trying to achieve the same goal this year.”

In fact the Raiders return seven players from last season’s championship squad, Noelani Cornfield, Shelbee Brown, Masengo Mutanda, Ines Piper, Last-Tear Poa, Nashani Gilbert and Sabou Gueye. These players, coach Walker, in his 7th season at the helm there, says are helping the newcomers adjust.

“I think it’s been a carryover for the years that we’ve been here.” says coach Walker. “It just kind of keeps growing. And when you get some good foundation laid, you know the new kids that come in, obviously they’ve got to incorporate themselves into our culture, and how we do things. I think with those players returning, it’s been a good transition for the players that have come in this year. They obviously understand what our standards are. And when we recruit them we tell them what are expectations are. They’ve done a really good job of trying to incorporate themselves into our system.”

Coach Walker says he and the players are rather excited about the fact the fans will be back in large numbers this season, with the removal of many of the COVID restrictions of the last season. And that’s good for the players and their futures.

”You know we’ve had a jamboree and it was great to see all the college coaches out. Had a lot of coaches in to visit us and watch us practice. You know I think that’s beneficial for the players, that’s going through this process. You know we had several players that’s left last year that were sophomores and just kind of had to do the Zoom. And get recruited by just seeing stuff on social media. So everybody’s excited about having the opportunity to have fans. It creates a lot of energy in the building when you’re playing. I know our Raider Club fans are chomping at the bit to get out and watch our games this season.”

The Raiders open the regular season November 5th at the Juco Shootout down in St. Petersburg.

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