The 49ers bench celebrates during a win over North Texas last season. Photo by Ben Coon.
The 49ers bench celebrates during a win over North Texas last season. Photo by Ben Coon.

The season is right around the corner for the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team. After a 15-16 finish last season, the 49ers are eager to turn things around in 2014-15.

Charlotte lost their top two scorers from a year ago but returns junior Kira Gordon, who averaged 10.5 points per game last year. Charlotte added three new freshmen to the team bringing in guard Amaya Ransom, forward Mintrell McKoy, and guard Griffin Dempsey.

Some other key returners from last season include the trio of seniors, Ayanna Holmes, Hillary Sigmon, and Olivia Rankin as well as sophomore Lefty Webster. Rankin brings hustle and size to the guard heavy offense. Holmes and Sigmon both played and started every contest last season minus one game where Sigmon came in off the bench. With only three seniors on the team, Charlotte will have to rely on the play of some younger talent. It is also critical that leaders begin to emerge both on and off the court.

When asked who she saw as leaders on the team, Holmes mentioned fellow senior Rankin and sophomore Webster.

“They are really big examples as far as what to do and what to say at the right times,” said Holmes. “Being where they are supposed to be and doing things right. We all have our downfalls but at the end of the day they come out on top.”

“With our team this year, everybody is showing leadership in different positions,” said Rankin.

Webster is a sophomore guard who was one of the eight players selected to the preseason All-Conference USA team. She added 7.4 points per game last season seeing time in every contest. Her play will be valuable to the team as she will be looked to as a go to scorer in crunch time.

Charlotte enters the season picked to finish fifth in the Conference USA. If multiple players can step up and fill the holes when needed, this is a team that could finish atop the conference.

“Because we are young, we don’t have a lot of experience playing together,” said Holmes. “People expect us to struggle a little bit, but I think in the long run we will get it together and come out on top.”

The 49ers have some big time non-conference matchups at home against N.C. State and Davidson as well as on the road at South Carolina. They also play in the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge Mayan Tournament in Riviera Maya, Mexico which features match-ups against Montana, Wake Forest, and Princeton.

It is sure to be an exciting year for the 49ers as they look to begin their journey towards March. Charlotte will host Catawba in an exhibition matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 5 before heading towards Lynchburg, Virginia to start the season at Liberty Friday, Nov. 14. The first game in Halton will be against N.C. State on Tuesday, Nov. 18.