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UVa-Wise women's basketball opens season on Friday

WISE, Va - Head Coach Kristin Kunzman will have to replace Chelsea Cluesman the first All-American the women's basketball program at UVa-Wise has had since Sarah Helton received the same honor in 2006.

A year ago, Cluesman averaged 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. In addition, Charlotte Reasor, Christine Nyobe, Jaydee Brewer, Cassie Kirby, and Hannah Powers were all lost to graduation.

Including Cluesman, the players combined to start 89 games and score 1,013 points in the school's final season in the Mid-South Conference.

This season, the Cavaliers will move to the newly formed NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference. UVa-Wise's schedule will consist of 22 MEC games, four non-conference games, and one exhibition contest.

The Cavs kickoff the season on Nov. 8 when the team travels to Vienna, W.Va. to face Ohio Valley University, the school's first MEC game will be on Nov. 23 as Urbana University visits the Prior Center. Overall, the schedule features 12 games inside the Prior Center with 13 on the road. UVa-Wise's exhibition game will come on Dec. 18 when NCAA Division I Campbell University welcomes the team to Buies Creek, N.C.

Despite the loss of six seniors, the 2013-14 version of the Cavs features three players who have received extensive playing time in their careers. MaKenzie Cluesman returns for her sophomore campaign after averaging 11 points and 4.4 rebounds from her point guard position.

Junior Katie Jo Lester is the top returning three point shooter on the team. As a sophomore, Lester hit 38 three-pointers and through her first two seasons has made 60 shots from beyond the arc. Kenzie Poindexter started 25 of the 29 games last year and averaged nearly 26 minutes a game while handing out a total of 48 assists.

To replace one of the premier forwards in program history, Kunzman and her staff brought in post players Kayla Carey, Makenzie Hensley, and Megan Smith.

Carey is a 6'2 freshman from Hardin Valley High School where she set a new single-season school record for scoring and rebounding in addition to also holding the career record in those categories. Hensley is a 6'4 freshman from Jackson County High School where she aided the school to a 126-19 record with a pair of state titles.

Individually, she earned all-state acclaim and first-team all-district status. The 5'11 Smith comes to UVa-Wise after becoming a two-time all-district selection at Middle Tennessee Christian High School. As a senior, Smith averaged 13 points and six rebounds a game.

Joining the newcomers in the post will be returners Reynesha Archer and Kaitlyn Rochelle. Archer is a 5'10 forward who appeared in 16 games and shot 37.1 percent from the floor as a junior in 2012-13. Rochelle played in eight games as a freshman and gained valuable experience that could propel her in to the 2013-14 rotation.

Other newcomers to the squad include guards Ashante Humphries, Taylor Sandige, Yasmine Tweedy, and Jessi Whaley. Humphries scored over 1,000 points as a prep player at Nansemond River High School, Sandige finished as the all-time leader in steals and scored over 1,000 points at The Miller School, Tweedy posted over 13 points and two assists a game at Manchester High School, and Whaley was a three-time all-district honoree at Battlefield High School.

The Cavs were picked 12th in the inaugural MEC Poll and the team kicks off its season on Friday when the team travels to Ohio-Valley University.

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