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Macy: 'Everybody stuck it out'

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East Carolina's Ariyana Williams (14) shoots as teammate Lashonda Monk looks on during a game last season. Both players were freshmen a year ago and leading scorers.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The East Carolina women’s basketball team honored three outgoing players last season on senior night, leaving 11 players eligible to return for this year.

All 11 are still with the Pirates, forming a more-than-adequate nucleus that has ninth-year coach Heather Macy beaming with optimism during the offseason.

“Relative to the (college basketball) world today, that is rare,” Macy said of her 11 returning players. “It speaks to our culture and when I talk about our team culture, I think we have a team of overachievers and a team that is committed to ECU and what we are working to do.

“You can see that. It wasn’t like everything was perfect (last season), but everybody stuck it out and they stuck it out mostly for each other and our team. When it is just about themselves, then that’s when I think you see people wanting to transfer to other places.”

The young Pirates finished with a 16-15 record a season ago to avenge for losing records the previous two years. Freshman guard Ariyana Williams ended up leading the team in scoring for the season, and fellow rookie point guard Lashonda Monk served as a nice spark as the scoring leader during American Athletic Conference play.

The Pirates picked up steam late in the campaign, posting a 7-9 AAC record. They went 8-26 combined in the league during the previous two seasons.

ECU’s rising junior class remains intact with guards Justice Gee and Raven Johnson joined by steady forward Dominique Claytor, and joining them as juniors this year are guard Jade Lewis (No. 20-ranked junior college prospect) and 6-foot forward Nique Cherry (No. 26 JUCO prospect).

Macy also signed freshmen Kaylee Jefferson and Tiara Chambers, who is 6-3 and out of I.C. Norcom (Va.) High School was the highest-rated high school recruit ever signed by Macy.

“We were able to address some weaknesses from last year during our recruiting, and that will show up right away,” said Macy, who has a 134-117 career record with the Pirates.

Like the ECU men’s team, returning players have been working out this summer, and the implementation of new recruits has begun to give Macy and the Pirates a full roster to work with during the second session of summer school.

Current and past East Carolina players also have been helping with camps in Minges Coliseum.

The ECU women held a wave of camps last week, including a few days of elite camp and that allowed for Macy and her staff to check out even more recruits.

“It’s like the best part of the summer for me to be able to train and be on the court with our local kids,” Macy said. “We had some recruits here during the elite camp session, but also local teams coming up to play during team camp, and I love that and still learn to coach through camps.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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