Mitchell named SSAC COY, several Lady Hawks earn accolades
ROME -- Shorter University head women's basketball coach Vic Mitchell was named the 2010-11 Southern States Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Coach of the Year as announced by the league at the conference awards banquet on Wednesday night at The Forum.
Mitchell's selection highlighted a banner night for the Lady Hawks (24-6), who open SSAC Tournament play on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Loyola University New Orleans (18-11) at the Darlington School in quarterfinal action.
In his 21st season at Shorter, Mitchell earned his Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Lady Hawks to a school record fourth straight 20-win season. Shorter's 24 wins this season are the most during the streak and Mitchell now boasts 347 victories during his tenure on the Shorter sidelines.
"This is truly a great honor," said Mitchell, whose Lady Hawks earned the SSAC East Division's No. 3 seed and are ranked 25th in the latest NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Poll. "I feel like this award could be broken up and given to a lot of different people who have been so supportive of our program, but this award was a very nice surprise and I am very appreciative."
Mitchell stood tall next to a good number of Lady Hawks who were honored for their performances on the court and in the classroom.
Juniors Kelly Ellison and Damisha Moore earned All-SSAC honors and sophomore Ashley Harris was named to the SSAC's All-East Division team.
Ellison, a 2009-10 NAIA All-America selection as a sophomore, was stellar again in 2010-11, averaging 10.0 points and leading Shorter's roster in both assists (5.3) and steals (2.1). Ellison ranks sixth in the NAIA in total assists with 160 while her assists per game average is eighth best in the country.
Moore, who transferred to Shorter from the University of Miami, made a splash in her first year as a Lady Hawk. The Cartersville, Ga., native led Shorter in scoring and rebounding at 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
Moore turned in a team-best two double-doubles -- her latest came in a 15-point, 12-rebound effort in a 52-51 loss at No. 13 Lee -- and shot 50 percent from the field for the season.
Harris, an SSAC All-Freshman selection a year ago, ranked third on the team in scoring at 8.3 points a game while remaining one of the league's top outside shooters.
The Royston, Ga., native connected on 43 percent of her 3-point attempts and shot a blistering 92 percent from the foul line this season. She scored a career-best 21 points with the help of five 3-pointers in Shorter's season finale victory over Truett-McConnell.
Lady Hawks' freshman point guard Emily Trew earned SSAC All-Freshman honors.
Trew, a first-year out of Dalton, Ga., and Northwest Whitfield High School, appeared in 30 of 31 games for Mitchell and was solid off the bench, shooting 42 percent (8-for-19) from the 3-point line and 49 percent overall. She also racked up 37 assists.
Chelsi Matthews was named Shorter's Champions of Character award winner while eight Lady Hawks were selected to the SSAC All-Academic team: Ellison, Harris, Matthews, Allison Danner, Shelby Farrer, Aiste Pranciliauskaite, Megan Queen and Brittney Smith.
Shorter also took home the SSAC's Sportsmanship Award for the third consecutive season.
The Lady Hawks play the second of four quarterfinal matchups at the Darlington School tomorrow. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students and $2 for children. Fans who cannot make the 3 p.m. tip can catch all the action by tuning into 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge or by accessing the live webcast available on the Shorter Athletics homepage.