Coronel's improvement keys Lynchburg streak

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Coronel is thriving in her first season as a full-time starter for the Hornets.
Photo courtesy Lynchburg Athletics 

Sarah Coronel is coming off the best game of her career at Lynchburg. The junior guard scored a career-high 20 points for the Hornets in their 82-66 win over Randolph-Macon Saturday.

It's another sign of the progress the former high school star in Ohio has made in her college career and also a sign that she is indeed making the most of her opportunities.

"I'm filling a bigger role this year and I'm having a lot of fun working with my teammates to help us be successful," said Coronel, who has started all 13 games during Lynchburg's 11-2 start to the season. "I think the big thing for me is I've gained a lot more confidence and it's easy to play well when you have good chemistry with your teammates."

Coronel, who started five games a year ago before settling into a role as a key bench player, is averaging 7.4 points this season. She has also been a strong presence in the paint, grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game.

Her scoring average has gone up five points from where it was as a sophomore (2.4) and almost six points from where she was as a freshman (1.7).

"Everything was so much faster and more intense at the college level. It took time to adjust to," Coronel said. "Getting all of the details down that it takes to be successful also took time. There was a lot more to learn than I expected."

As much of an impact as Coronel is having on the court for the Hornets, who sit atop the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with a 4-0 record, she is making a big difference off the court as well.

She is in her second year as a tutor at the school's writing center and the athletic training major is the Athletic Training Club secretary.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg for Coronel, who has also volunteered her time at the Salvation Army, the Special Olympics, and Relay for Life.

"I like to stay busy and it's nice to be able to do other things outside the classroom and basketball court," Coronel said. "I just like being with people in general."

Her work at the Salvation Army involves waking up early to serve breakfast to the homeless and she has helped out at Special Olympics events on campus.

"They are all great experiences," Coronel said. "You get to bring a smile to someone's face and meet a lot of different people."

The experiences also put life into perspective.

"It makes me appreciate even more where I am and what I get to do each day," Coronel said. "It makes it even more special that I get a chance to play college basketball and get a great education at Lynchburg."

On the court, Coronel is hoping to help lead the Hornets to a conference title and berth in the NCAA tournament.

Lynchburg lost in the conference title game a year ago to Virginia Wesleyan, falling 59-57 and missing out on an NCAA bid despite a 19-9 record.

"Our team has strong leadership and we have all bought into what we want to accomplish this year," Coronel said. "We want to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals."

Being ready to play night in and night out is key.

"Our coach talked to us the other day about how hard it is to stay at the top (of the conference)," Coronel said. "We have to keep playing hard. We can't let up. We have to play hard every night."

Coronel is determined to do whatever she can to help keep Lynchburg moving in the right direction. The Hornets entered the week riding a nine-game win streak.

"I just want to contribute any way I can, whether it's scoring points or getting rebounds. I just want to do whatever my team needs from me to help us achieve our goals."

Cowboys riding wave of momentum

Hardin-Simmons is the hottest team in the American Southwest Conference. The Cowboys have won their last six games, their latest victory coming in a 112-91 win over Ozarks Saturday afternoon.

The key to their success was the ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. The Cowboys made 20 3-pointers in the victory, just one shy of the school record.

Dashun Dixon made half of those 3-pointers en route to setting a school record. He hit five of his treys in the opening half and finished the day with 30 points.

It was a big day for two other players as well as Justin Jones came through with a double-double and Duane Hopper nearly recorded a double-double.

Jones scored 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Hopper poured in 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

The Cowboys have made 145 shots from beyond the arc this year, with Dixon nailing 32. Caleb Spoon leads the team in treys made with 34. Four other players have made at least 14 shots from the outside this year, including Christian O'Neal and Cameron Barnes, who have knocked down 18 apiece.

Once a .500 team, Hardin-Simmons is now 10-4 overall and 5-1 in the conference.

Daniels reaches scoring milestone

Symone Daniels became the 16th player in the history of the women's basketball program at Rhodes to get to 1,000 points in her career.

Daniels reached the milestone Friday, scoring 15 points to help the Lynx knock off Centre 68-62. The win was the first of the season for Rhodes in Southern Athletic Association action.

Daniels ranks second on the team in scoring this season, putting up 10.0 points per outing. She has scored in double figures six times this year, including four times in her last six games.

Daniels has also been a solid rebounder, ranking second on the team in that category as well as she is grabbing 6.6 rebounds per game.

The senior forward has helped the Lynx fashion a 7-7 record this season. Rhodes has won the last three conference tournaments and has played in the NCAA tournament the last three years as well.

Mountaineers still on top

Colorado College remained unbeaten in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference action with a 73-65 win over Schreiner Sunday.

The Mountaineers improved to 8-6 overall and are 4-0 in the conference. James Lonergan paved the way as he scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half. The talented senior forward was just one rebound shy of a double-double. He also dished out a career-best seven assists.

John Hatch, however, did come through with a double-double, the first of his career. He scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Lonergan averages 12.4 points per game and is also pulling down 7.6 rebounds per outing. He has handed out 54 assists. Hatch is clicking for 8.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He has also blocked a team-high 23 shots.

The Mountaineers have won their last four games to remain unbeaten in 2016.

Spirits start league play with win

Salem won its Great South Athletic Conference opener Saturday, knocking off Agnes Scott 69-57.

Sabrina Shepherd stepped up in a big way for the Spirits, scoring 24 points. Mikayla Sievers came through with a double-double as she dished out 14 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Spirits, who are 3-11 overall. Shepherd is having a solid year for Salem, averaging 14.2 points per outing. She leads the team in 3-pointers, hitting 21, and has also dished out 15 assists.

Sievers is also playing well for the Spirits. She averages 9.5 points per game and has tallied a team-best 75 assists. She is grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game.

One of the keys to success for Salem going forward will be finding ways to win on the road. Seven of the Spirits' last 10 games are away from home. Salem is 0-4 on the road so far this year.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 15 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for and wrote the book Perfect Run as No. 1 about the 2009 Division II men's basketball champions University of Findlay. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.