Thaxon, Daniels lead young group, aiming for second NAIA tournament trip in three seasons

In her first two seasons at LSUA, guard Kelsey Thaxton has set 14 school records, including the school scoring record.

As we mark the return of the college basketball season, Thaxton aims to lead a young Generals roster to the NAIA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

“Given COVID and the hurricanes we have dealt with, we have come in and had some really good practices,” LSUA Women’s Basketball Coach Bob Austin said. “We’re really getting after each other, which is nice because we have so many new faces out there.”

The season begins Wednesday when the Generals travel to No. 19 Talladega at 5:30. The original start date was Oct. 31 against Xavier (La.), but it was rescheduled due to Hurricane Zeta. The game was rescheduled for Nov. 18, which is still the home opener.

The Generals begin the season away from The Fort for four consecutive contests before hosting Xavier (La).

Due to COVID restrictions, attendance will be limited a handful of student-athlete family members and LSUA students. All home games can be watched live via the Generals Sports Network at www.lsuagenerals.com/watch.

“It’s going to look a little different,” Austin said. “We’re going to be spacing out on the bench and wearing masks. We’re dealing with that, just like everyone else is.”

The 2019-20 season finished at 17-10 and a berth in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Thaxton has scored 1,040 points in her first two seasons and is coming off a season in which she scored a school-record 20.4 points per game, drilling 101 3-pointers and made 39.6 percent of her triple tries.

She is a two-time First Team All-Red River Athletic Conference selection and could be a contender for the RRAC Player of the Year in 2020-21 season.

Post player Ciera Daniels performed at a high level as a sophomore in 2019-20, averaging a double-double and grabbed a school-record 24 rebounds in the 89-61 victory against Huston-Tillotson on Jan. 9.

Her 11.7 rebounds per game ranked third nationally and her rebound total ranked fifth. Daniels was one of 11 players in the country to average a double-double and the only one in the Red River Athletic Conference to accomplish it.

Thaxton and Daniels are two of five returning players for the Generals, as they have a combined 53 starts in their careers. The rest of the team has zero. LSUA has 12 newcomers, including six freshmen.

Returning sophomore Jay Demouchet is ready to take the reigns as the starting point guard, and Daniels is excited about what she can do as the floor general this season.

“Jay is young, but really knows the game of basketball,” Daniels said. “She’s been with us for a year now, so she has a good understanding of how we want the ball.”

Demouchet appeared in 12 contests during the 2019-20 season, but will be thrust into more of an expanded role this season. In her 12 games, she shot 36 percent from the floor and 35 percent from 3-point territory, connecting on 12 of 34 triple tries.

Despite playing just 12 games, she showed her thievery and passing skills, recording 36 steals and dishing out 40 assists, which were both fifth on the team.

Deborah FordDasjah Ross and Maddie Smith all come in as transfers.

Ford and Ross were teammates at Garden City Community College. Ford, a forward, averaged 8.6 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting, and grabbed 4.8 rebounds per game, which was second on the team.

Ross averaged 7.6 points per game, which was fifth on the team. A guard from Fort Worth, she played all 31 games last season for the Broncbusters. Ross led the team in assists with 2.9 per game and shot 36 percent from the field.

There are six freshmen who will be making their Generals debut this season: guards Dannah MartinRivers DayKaitlyn Gallagher and Haley Gaytan, and forwards Payton Miller and Raegan Ojoro.

“I think we’ve recruited some really good freshmen,” Austin said. “I think they will be able to develop into some powerhouses. They are right where we expected them to be coming in.

“They are making a lot of shots, which is what we recruited them to do. I am excited about this group.”

Miller averaged 15.7 points per game as a junior, helping lead Anacoco to a 40-3 record and a state runner-up finish. She was a Second Team All-State selection and First Team All-District choice as well. As a senior, she led the Lady Indians to an appearance in the second round of the state tournament.

Day brings the outside shot to LSUA, burying 46 percent from her 3-point attempts in her junior season. She led Hicks to a Class C state championship as a senior, defeating Plainview 64-62. Hicks finished 42-1 and all but three of its wins came by double digits. Day was honorable mention All-State.

In Gaytan, they get a floor general who was chosen as the Athens Christian Preparatory Academy Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 2019-20.

Gaytan was chosen to the TAPPS 1A All State team for the second consecutive year. During her four years, she broke the school record with 320 steals.

As a junior, she averaged 17 points, six rebounds and four assists per game.

LSUA has a non-conference tournament in San Antonio playing against No. 2 Wayland Baptist on Nov. 24 and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma on Nov. 25.

The Generals have a chance to finish on a run entering conference play, as they finish the season with four consecutive home games, ending with a visit from in-state rival LSU-Shreveport on Feb. 20. LSUA had eight road contests in a span of 11 games immediately prior to the final stretch.

LSUA opens conference play opens Jan. 5 at home against Jarvis Christian.

The 2021 RRAC Conference Tournament returns to the Rapides Parish Coliseum (February 28-March 2) before the 2021 NAIA National Tournament Opening Round tips off in the same venue (March 11-13). If qualifying for the NAIA National Tournament with an automatic selection (by winning the RRAC Tournament) or as an at-large selection, LSUA will be slated at the Rapides Parish Coliseum site, hosted by the Alexandria/Pineville CVB.

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