Rising through the ranks: Mid-South ASU women’s basketball team overcoming adversity

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Three years ago, the women’s basketball program at Arkansas State Mid-South was hurting in a major way. They were forced to end their season due to academic and eligibility issues.

But now, the Lady Greyhounds are one of the best Division II junior college teams in the country. It’s been a long road, covered in a short amount of time for head coach Mercedes Corona and the Lady Greyhounds.

Coach Corona took the Arkansas State Mid-South program over just three years ago, when they couldn’t even finish their season due to off-the-court issues.

“It’s been dog years for us growing together, myself included,” Corona said. “Just from top to bottom, we’ve grown together. It’s been a huge maturing process for everybody.”

But now, those struggles feel like a different era. The Lady Greyhounds are undefeated and are sitting at No. 8 in the country, enjoying one of the best seasons in program history.

“It’s exciting to us! We love it! Because we’ve never seen it before, honestly,” Alyia Lee, forward, said.

“I think we kinda knew what we had on our hands, but I don’t think they did in the beginning, until they finally got on campus and were able to play together. Then they actually saw, okay we can do something special,” Corona said.

Perhaps even more impressive than the Lady Greyhounds’ turnaround is their ability to thrive during COVID-19. Just across the river, larger programs like the University of Memphis have lost chunks of their season due to pandemic problems , and even the professional Memphis Grizzlies have had team-wide outbreaks.

Coach Corona credits her team’s focus and maturity in avoiding the virus.

“I think just staying in our little bubble with the men’s and women’s teams that we’ve got here on campus has been a huge, huge advantage that we’ve had,” Corona said.

“There’s not a minute we’re not around each other basically. So I think that really helps on and off the court,” Lee said.

The Lady Greyhounds’ next home game is this Saturday against the University of Arkansas Cossatot.

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