1. 1. Freed-Hardeman's depth of contributors continues to develop.

    Senior and TranSouth defender of the year Ashley Tate scored 16 points. Sophomore forward Amber Alexander had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Grace Alonso de Armino also had 13 points.

    Both the latter two are more polished than they were last year as freshmen.

    "Defensively, Grace rotates across and helps. And we've got some other people that will do what only Maria (Bagwell) did last year," FHU coach Dale Neal said. "When Natalie (Shumpert) struggles offensively, we've got some other people that do what only she could do last year.

    "So I think we're in a lot better position now than we were last year, and we can survive."

    2. Through the first half, Bethel's spirit was as optimistic and cheerful as I've seen all season. Coaches and players alike were clapping and yelling from the bench after drawn charges or made field goals.

    They were clearly buoyed by the kind of early success Friday they didn't get in previous matchups against FHU.

    In the postgame interview, I asked Bethel coach Chris Nelson to describe his team's confidence level.

    "I think after that, very high," he said. "After our guys' team (lost) last night, our girls sort of opened their eyes up. I told them either you're living or dying this time of year for the fact that you get to play with the top 32 teams."

    Nelson said Alisha Gentry is a naturally confident guard, but he also thought Katie VanDyke's four rebounds were a good sign in addition to 10 points.

    3. Bethel guard Jackliann Street, the league's freshman of the year, was usually guarded by either Tate or Shumpert, and the numbers reflect it. Street played nearly the entire game but shot 1-for-8, finishing with four points and seven turnovers.

    4. That said, Bethel was one of the rare teams in the past two months to force FHU to make a significant defensive adjustment.

    "(Early in the game) We were backing off and giving them a lot of space, and that's not the way to guard Bethel, I don't think," Neal said. "If you let them just run their sets, then their post play's pretty tough inside.

    "And then we got out of position - we didn't play defense with our feet, we played with our hands and we put them on the foul line, way, way too many times, got ourselves in deep foul trouble. Just things were going opposite of what we normally like to do."

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  2. Earlier today, the Ohio Valley Conference released the tiebreaker scenarios for men's basketball and how various teams could qualify.

    UT Martin's men are currently 4-10 overall. The Skyhawks play at Murray State (10-4 in league play) tonight and at Austin Peay (3-11) on Saturday.

    UTM must be one of the top 8 eligible teams in order to advance to the conference tournament next week.

    Look for updated scenarios after tonight's games in Friday's Jackson Sun.


    UTM's scenarios with wins tonight and Saturday
    If Eastern Illinois, Southeast Missouri and UT Martin are tied at 6-10 …
      - UTM would be IN as the No. 8 seed
    If SIUE, Southeast Missouri and UT Martin are tied at 6-10 …
      - UTM would be IN as the No. 7 seed
    If Eastern Illinois, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin are tied at 6-10 …
      - UTM would be OUT
    If SIUE, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin are tied at 6-10 …
      - UTM would be IN as the No. 7 seed

    UTM's scenarios with one win and one loss in final two games

    If Eastern Illinois and UT Martin are tied at 5-11 ...
      - UTM would be OUT

    If SIUE and UT Martin are tied at 5-11 ...
      - UTM would be IN as the No. 8 seed

    UTM's scenarios with two losses

    If the Skyhawk men lose to both Murray State and Austin Peay, they will be OUT.


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  3. In this week's latest NAIA poll, Freed-Hardeman women's basketball (29-1) remained No. 1 in the country. The Lady Lions got exactly one more point than No. 2 Oklahoma City.

    Bethel (20-9), which hosts Mid-Continent tonight, moved up one spot to No. 22.


    Conference ward winners were also announced Tuesday. The final season of TranSouth play ends with a repeat winner of the Player of the Year award.

    Listed below are the TranSouth awards claimed by a player at either Freed or Bethel. (Source: TranSouth Conference)


    Player of the Year: Natalie Shumpert, FHU senior guard

    Defender of the Year: Ashley Tate, FHU senior guard

    Freshman of the Year: Jackliann Street, Bethel guard

    FHU All-conference players (4): Shumpert, Tate, Maria Bagwell (senior forward) and Grace Alonso de Armino (sophomore guard/forward)

    Bethel All-conference players (2): Jasmine Taylor (senior forward) and Alisha Gentry (sophomore guard)

    Honorable mention: Street (Bethel guard) and Amber Alexander (FHU sophomore forward)

    All-freshmen team members: Street and Lorna Hudson (Bethel guard)


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  4. This will be the blog home for The Jackson Sun's college sports coverage in West Tennessee. I'll post updates throughout the week, and I hope to hear from you.

    I'll focus mostly on schools within The Sun's coverage area: UT Martin, Union, Lane, Bethel, Freed-Hardeman and Jackson State.

    Occasionally, I'll add a post about Memphis or UT.

    This is a good place for posting some fun topics and updates that won't have to wait for the next day's print deadline - I can put them up immediately.

    I'd like to get some conversations and discussions going and make this fairly interactive. Let me know what you like and don't like. (Blogs have comment spaces for a reason!)



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