A young, retooled roster has the Miami Dade College women's basketball team on the comeback trail after a mediocre 16-14 season last year.
Heading into the meat of their conference schedule, the revitalized Lady Sharks are 10-6. They are currently ranked ninth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 8 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll.
The Lady Sharks are a young team with only four sophomores on their 13 member roster. Last year, they managed to average 74 points and 43.5 rebounds per game.
This year's rejuvenated squad is averaging 80.7 points and 44.9 rebounds per game. They are also being backed by a stout defense.
"We must continue to improve our defense," head coach Susan Summons said. "Offense wins games but defense and rebounding wins championships."
Sophomore forward Cheah Rael-Whitsitt is currently ranked fifth in the NJCAA in rebounds with 12.7 per game that is bolstered by her 14.3 scoring average. Second year forward Savannah Clark is averaging 19.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Other key contributors are sophomore guard Michelle Wright, who leads the team with a 59.3 percent shooting average from three point range, and freshman guard Ganette Chism, who averages 20.1 points, 4.4 assists per game.
"The Lady Sharks are working hard and beating teams that are ranked in the nation and in the state," Summons said. "A strong schedule has produced a strong competitive team."
Although the Lady Sharks are off to a hot start, the team still feels it needs to compete harder to vie for the championship.
"Our communication has improved way more. We are starting to really get together," Clark said. "I believe this team is more focused on winning. We all have the same goal.
Team chemistry on the court will be the x-factor, Summons said, but with a more cohesive unit this season, their mission, they say, has become simpler this season.
"I think our chemistry has made a big difference for the team, but I think we need to improve on finishing games and encouraging each other," Chism said.
Focusing on a balanced effort from the entire team, the Lady Sharks are working on keeping their offense steady and ratcheting up their defensive prowess.
"The goal for the season is for this team to give a strong effort and push for a conference championship and compete at the state championship level," Summons said. "They need to carve out their own team history and legacy in Shark nation."