Spring Hill College forward Tiffany Valentine was selected as the SIAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

Photo |  Courtesy Spring Hill College

When Spring Hill College first applied to leave the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the original timeline was for this to be its first season as a full member of Division II. However, issues aside from athletics had to be dealt with before the transitional period was completed.

Although the NCAA has not yet officially given its blessing, it appears the Badgers will join the organization this summer. However, that will be too late for this year’s teams.

That is especially a shame for the SHC women’s basketball squad, which excelled in 2017-18, including a program record 14-game winning streak to end the season.

In this final year of NCAA limbo, the SHC women finished with a 22-6 overall record — their best season since going 23-11 in 1999-2000.

The Badgers would likely have been competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. SHC finished the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) slate with a 15-3 record, which tied Central State University (21-5, 15-3 SIAC West) for first place in the division. However, Spring Hill won the tiebreaker by taking both head-to-head contests during the regular season and building a perfect 12-0 mark in divisional play.

Despite not being allowed to compete for postseason victories, the league did not let the epic campaign go unnoticed. At the SIAC awards reception in Birmingham, three SHC women’s basketball players were named to the 2018 All-Conference Team.

Forward Tiffany Valentine was selected as the SIAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. Guard Jewel Hill earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Elise Reilly also earned All-Conference honorable mention recognition.

“I honestly felt overwhelmed with joy,” Valentine told Lagniappe. “I broke down in tears and just thanked God.”

On the season, the 6-foot-1 sophomore from Houston was the second leading scorer for her team, averaging 17.5 points per game while placing third in the league for scoring. She finished with six double-doubles and averaged 7.1 rebounds per game. On the season, Valentine finished with 31 assists, 14 blocks and 12 steals.

“Tiffany Valentine is a great offensive player with many different moves in her arsenal,” SHC head coach Karen McConico said. “She wants to be the best. She has a desire to win every night. She has a tough job because most nights she is double-teamed. She has definitely been a difference-maker for our team this year.”

Hill, a 5-foot-9 senior who played for St. Luke’s Episcopal in Mobile, led the SIAC in scoring (18.4 points per game), steals (77) and blocked shots (20). On the season, Hill managed two double-doubles, one of which was against Kentucky State University where she posted 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Reilly, a sophomore guard, set school records for 3-point shots made in a single season (98) and in a career (170). She finished the year averaging 15.5 points per game.

• While the men’s team did not do quite as well, it was not without postseason honors. The SIAC named forward Brandon Fischer as an honorable mention member. The 6-foot-7 junior led the Badgers in scoring with 12.9 points per game and was second in rebounding with 6.1 boards per contest. He also handed out 64 assists with 11 steals and six blocked shots.

In their final season of transition into NCAA Division II, the SHC men finished with a 12-16 overall mark and a 9-10 record in the SIAC. This was good for third place in the West Division.

Red snapper meeting set

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division is hosting an Alabama Red Snapper Conference on Thursday, March 22. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn at 301 Government St. in downtown Mobile.

The purpose of the conference is to highlight recent management and research of red snapper ecology offshore of Alabama. This conference will be of interest to federal and state marine fisheries managers, local resource managers and the Alabama recreational/commercial fishing community.

There is no fee to attend the conference, but pre-registration is encouraged because of limited seating. Individuals interested in attending should register at tinyurl.com/ya7lud8u.

Those who cannot attend may view presentations via webinar at tinyurl.com/yaymom35.

For the agenda and more information about the conference, contact the Marine Resources Division at 251-861-2882 or visit outdooralabama.com.

Shoe donations still sought

The “Many More Miles” shoe donation campaign is winding down. For the 15th consecutive year, Baldwin Bone & Joint is hosting this community outreach project while partnering with the Port City Pacers, Dr. Glenn Glass, the University of South Alabama Student Recreation Center and certain schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The campaign collects shoes for the homeless outreach programs of Wings of Life, Discovery Ministries and the Salvation Army’s Running Forward program.

Response to the campaign has grown since its inception, from 200 pairs donated in 2004 to just under 2,000 pairs distributed in 2017. This year’s campaign began in January; final shoe drop-offs will be received at the 2018 Azalea Trail Run on Saturday, March 24.

Students in Mobile and Baldwin counties are challenged to collect shoes for homeless families in the area while earning money for their schools’ physical education programs. Baldwin Bone & Joint will award cash prizes to the top three participating schools that donate the most shoes. This year’s participating schools include Spanish Fort Elementary, Fairhope Intermediate School, Foley Intermediate School, Stapleton Elementary, J. Larry Newton Elementary, Mary B. Austin Elementary and Dixon Elementary.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to clean up those gently used shoes, tie them together in pairs and drop them off at any of the following locations: Baldwin Bone & Joint (1505 Daphne Ave., Daphne), Dr. Glass’ office (1303 Main St., Daphne), USA’s Student Recreation Center and the participating schools. For more information, call 251-621-5387.