While there’s a handful of proven veterans on the roster, the bulk of the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens 2021-22 lineup will be new, including the coaching staff. Still, the same positive results that the Flying Queens have produced for most of the past decade should be expected again during the upcoming season.
Coaches within the Sooner Athletic Conference certainly think that, today making the Flying Queens the favorite to three-repeat as league regular-season and tournament champions. Voted upon by the SAC’s 12 head coaches, Wayland earned 118 points and garnered nine of a possible 11 first-place tallies.
Following a closed exhibition against New Mexico State this Friday in Las Cruces, the official start of the Flying Queens’ season is a week away, with Wayland set to debut under new coach Jason Cooper in Dubuque, Iowa, against William Penn (Iowa) on Oct. 29 before taking on Clark (Iowa) the following day. The Queens play two additional road games before making their home debut Nov. 11 against Loyola (La.).
Cooper – a proven high school coach – took over as head coach after Alesha Ellis went to Angelo State following a highly-successful eight-year stint at WBU. A former all-conference player for the Wayland Pioneers in the late 1990s, Cooper already had ties to the Flying Queens, having served as assistant coach under sister-in-law Johnna Pointer right after his playing days. Cooper was again close to the program since daughter Jenna has been a standout Flying Queen the last two seasons.
Jason Cooper believes the Flying Queens are on the verge of something special.
“The Queens were very close to a national championship the last two seasons. I’m ready to … continue with what Alesha has done and take that next step to the national championship,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s task is continuing the tremendous tradition of the Flying Queens, college basketball’s winningest women’s program just five wins short of 1,700. “We are excited about ushering in a new era in Flying Queens basketball with a lot of new faces on board, both coaches and players alike, all of whom are ready to continue the program’s long and storied history of success,” Cooper said.
The Flying Queens went 13-1 during the abbreviated COVID season. Wayland repeated as SAC regular-season champion then went on to claim a third straight SAC Tournament title. The Flying Queens were ranked No. 2 in the nation before being knocked off in the final of the opening round pod by Mount Vernon Nazarene, Ohio.
Four players return off that team, led by a pair of all-Americans in Kaylee Edgemon and Jenna Cooper. Edgemon is a three-time all-American honoree, earning first-team honors last season when she also was named SAC Player of the Year. The 5-foot-11 forward from Littlefield averaged 18.9 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. Jenna Cooper, a 6-foot forward from Claude, averaged 16.1 points and 8.4 boards and earned All-SAC First Team.
Also back is Kaylee’s sister Kaitlyn, a 5-foot-11 forward who was named the SAC Freshman of the Year after averaging 8.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg. Another veteran is Ashlyn Shelley, a 5-foot-7 guard from Idalou, “who saw some big minutes and started in some key games a year ago,” Cooper said. Taking on an expanded role will be junior guard Jessica Medcalf. “We will lean hard on these girls to lead the way.”
The additions of transfer guards Angel Hayden, a 5-foot-7 senior from Canyon (Texas Tech/Angelo State), and Sable Darnell, a 5-5 junior from Amarillo (Frank Phillips), will bring more collegiate experience to the mix.
The roster includes seven freshmen rookies in guards Taryn Shultz, Emily Sigala, Katelynn Dodds and Maggie Anderson, and forwards Damilola Ajisafe, Holli Scoggins and 6-foot-2 Allison Giles.
“I am very excited about our crop of freshmen who have shown great energy and enthusiasm during our early workouts. We will need a couple of these ladies to step up and play some important minutes,” Cooper said.
As for what to expect from the 2021-22 Flying Queens, Cooper said it will be fast-paced.
“We will look to bring an exciting, up-tempo offense and a high pressure defense to the floor as we complete against some of best small college completion in the country in the SAC,” he said. “As the two-time defending champions of the SAC, our expectations are incredibly high as we embark on this journey. I have no doubt that these young women are up to the challenge.”
The 2022 SAC Tournament will begin Feb. 24 with the quarterfinal round taking place at the sites of the top four seeds. The semifinal and championship rounds will be played at the Gaulke Activity Center on the campus of Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City from Feb. 28-March 1.
|2021-22 Sooner Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll|
|2.||Science & Arts||2||5||2||2||106|
|10.||SW Assemblies of God||4||4||3||34|
|11.||North Texas Dallas||2||1||4||4||23|