Southwest Tennessee Community College

March 3, 2005

For More Information, contact: Keith Gentry (901) 333-4114 / Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023

Written by Keith Gentry

For the first time since the 1992-93 season, both the Saluqis and Lady Saluqis basketball teams are champions of the Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association’s West Division. The Southwest men, now 20-5 overall on the season and ranked 13th in the latest national poll, finished the regular season with a 14-2 conference record and enter next week’s Region VII Tournament with a number one seeding and a first round bye. The Southwest women enter next week’s tournament with a 17-8 overall record and were 10-6 in the TJCCAA. The Lady Saluqis will receive a first round bye in their tournament as well.

This year’s Region VII Tournament will be played March 8-13 in Harriman, Tennessee and will be hosted by Roane State Community College. The Southwest women will play their first game at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 against the winner of Jackson State and Cleveland State. The Southwest men will play the winner of Columbia State and Cleveland State at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 11. The region tournament champions will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament, March 22-26. The men’s national tournament will be held in Hutchinson, Kansas, while the women’s tourney will take place in Salina, Kansas.

The Saluqis are coached by Verties Sails Jr., who is now in his 26th season as head coach and has compiled a 559-224 record at the College. Sails has guided his teams to 19 division titles, 13 state championships, and seven region championships and national tournament appearances. Sails, who was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2004, was inducted into two more Halls during this season – the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

This year’s Saluqi squad is the top scoring team in the conference and second in the entire NJCAA, averaging 98.2 points per game. Southwest features four players averaging in double figures, led by sophomore forward Rasuul Buluu, who has played in ten games after becoming eligible at the semester. Buluu, a product of Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis who played his freshman season at Connors State Community College before transferring to Southwest, leads the Saluqis in scoring with a 18.5 average and also in rebounding at 7.9 per game. The other starting forward is freshman Moraye Ivy of Memphis Central High School. Ivy averages 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Backcourt starters for Southwest in coach Sails’ three guard set include sophomore guard Nick Covington, who played his high school ball at Little Rock Mills and transferred to Southwest from Three Rivers Community College. Covington averages 7.2 points per game and leads the team in assists with 88. Dee Burchett, a Memphis native from Hamilton High School, is another transfer (University of Arkansas-Ft. Smith) who sat out last season with a knee injury. Burchett averages 8.6 points per game and is tied for second on the team with 67 assists. The third starting guard is freshman Lester Hudson, also a product of Memphis Central High School. Hudson has some of the best all-around numbers on the team with 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.

The Saluqis’ bench is one of the deepest in the entire country, contributing more than 40 points per game. Anthony “A.J.” Pigram of Trezevant High School is the team’s top three-point shooter with 84 and is second on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Aaron Nichols, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, transferred to Southwest from Wabash Valley College. Nichols averages a team-high 4.3 assists per game and also scores 6.2 points per contest. Other guards coming off the bench are sophomore Jerry Dover of Germantown High School (4.8 points per game), and freshmen Mario Lucchesi of Elliston Baptist Academy (5.6 points per game) and Timothy Bates of West Memphis High School (1.7 points per game).

Top big men off the bench are freshman Jeremy Marrs (Parkin, AR), who averages 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and is also the conference leader in blocked shots (2.8 per game), and Chris Prince, a native of Clinton, Maryland who transferred to Southwest from Radford University. Prince averages 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds and is one of the team’s top free throw shooters at 76 percent.

The Southwest women’s team is coached by Andrea Martre, who is in her ninth year as head coach. Martre has compiled a coaching record of 132-108 and has guided her teams to two West Division titles and one region championship and national tournament appearance.

The Lady Saluqis are second in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 76.8 points per game. They are led in scoring by sophomore forward Ashley Mason, who played at Trezevant High School in Memphis and transferred to Southwest from Mississippi Delta Community College. Mason averages 13.9 points per game and is second on the team with a 7.5 rebounding average. The other primary frontcourt presence is freshman Imesia Jackson, who came to Southwest from East Oktibbeha County High School in Crawford, Mississippi. Jackson, who played sparingly during the early part of the season due to injury, has come on strong in the second half of the season. She leads the team with a 8.1 rebounding average and 64 percent field goal shooting and is third in scoring with 12.2 points per game. Mary Brown, a freshman from Memphis East High School, averages 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds coming off the bench.

Freshman guard/forward Kenya Moore, a Blytheville, Arkansas native, is the team’s second leading scorer with a 12.3 average and also averages 5.3 rebounds. Another player who can play both the guard and forward positions is sophomore Shayna Troupe, who played at Kirby High School in Memphis and transferred to Southwest from San Jacinto Community College. Troupe averages 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Backing them up are freshmen Priscilla Campbell of Carver High School and Erika Harris of Cordova High School.

In the backcourt, sophomore Lakeisha Jackson of Booker T. Washington High School averages 11.2 points per game and leads the team with 44 three point field goals. Jackson will play both the point guard and shooting guard positions. Freshman Porshia Willis, a product of Kirby High School in Memphis, will see most of her playing time at the point and leads the team with 118 assists and 60 steals. Backing them up is sophomore Kristin Henderson (Fayette-Ware High School), who is one of the team’s top free throw shooters at 77 percent and averages 2.4 points per game.