Two seasons ago the Catamount women’s basketball team excelled in the SoCon Tournament and took home the Tournament Championship, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. This season, Kellie Harper and her Lady Cats are back looking to bring that same magic back to Cullowhee. On Nov. 10, the Catamounts return to the Ramsey Center for another season of Catamount basketball as they will battle the SEC’s Auburn Tigers. The schedule looks tough for the Catamounts, with Auburn coming in to the RAC on the first game of the season; it does not get much easier. The Lady Cats also have trips to Winston Salem to play the ACC’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and to Chapel Hill to play the UNC Tar Heels. “Opening the season with Auburn in Cullowhee during an exciting weekend for everyone at Western is something we are looking forward to. Also, traveling to ACC opponents Wake Forest and Final Four participant, North Carolina, will present us with different challenges. We have a long, tough stretch of road games including a tournament at Colorado State and Xavier, but we’re counting on it making us a better team. I like the early-season tournament settings to help give us a taste of what our SoCon tournament will be like,” stated Coach Kellie Harper. Junior Monique Dawson believes that in order for the Catamounts to make it back to the Big Dance, they are going to have to do well in the Southern Conference. She believes that the Catamounts have a good shot at making some noise in the Southern Conference this season. “For us to get back to the NCAA Tournament, we’re going to have to work hard. We’re going to need good team chemistry and we need finish games all the way until the final buzzer sounds. We’re going to be a tough team to beat this year in the Southern Conference and teams are going have to be ready for us every night,” stated the 5’8 guard from Charlotte. Kellie Harper is back to coach her third season of Catamount basketball and would love nothing more than to be cutting the nets down in March celebrating a SoCon Championship. Dawson enjoys Harper’s style of coaching and believes that her winning attitude will help the Cats tremendously throughout the season. “Playing for Kellie is a lot of fun and she is such a great coach. While it is fun playing for her, it is also hard work. She expects perfection from us and demands hard work at all times. She is very patient with us and is a great teacher of the game of basketball,” stated Dawson. Predicted to finish fourth in the Southern Conference by head coaches all throughout the league, Dawson and Harper are hoping to prove critics wrong this season. “We have excellent scorers on the team and our defense has turned it up a couple of notches, so I think that we are going to be a huge threat in the conference this year, no matter what anyone else thinks,” stated Dawson. Returning from last season’s team are Dawson, reigning SoCon Freshman-of-the-Year Lauren Powell, Junior Jessika Johnson, Junior Chevon Keith, seniors Lynsie Lamitie and Erin May. Powell led the Catamounts in scoring last season averaging 11.3 points per contest, and Dawson averaged 11.0 points. Chevon Keith averaged 8.2 points a contest, and 7.1 rebounds per game. Dawson believes that with Keith’s rebounding ability the Catamounts will be a force to be reckoned with this year. “I think Chevon Keith is a great player. She is strong fast very athletic and can make plays on both sides of the ball. Her scoring ability is always there for us, but the big thing is her rebounding ability. I think with her rebounding ability she will help the team out whenever we need her the most,” stated Dawson. As an upperclassman this season, Dawson knows that the two freshmen on the team will be looking to her for guidance. Heather Swayne and Kristen Feemster will be looking to the upperclassmen for advice and guidance on playing at the collegiate level. Dawson will be ready to give the freshman advice whenever they ask for it. She will tell them to give 100 percent every time they step on the floor. “What I will tell them is that they need to play hard as long as they can. Everybody that we are going to play can play basketball just like us, but it all comes down to whoever has the most heart and fight. As long as we play hard every night, then we will do great,” stated Dawson. The Catamounts open the season against the Auburn Tigers on Nov.10 in Cullowhee, and they will be looking to bring the heat to the Ramsey Center and get ready for another season of college hoops.