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Tiber finds sweet home in Alabama

FLORENCE, ALA. – Missy Tiber is in her seventh year at the helm of the University of North Alabama women’s basketball team. And if early returns are any indication, the campaign will be another rousing success for the Bellaire native and her Lions.

The former Big Reds hoop standout led North Alabama to a most memorable season a year ago. For starters, it marked the school’s transition from the NCAA D-II ranks into D-I. That is no small jump.

Moreover, it is also one that Tiber guided her Lions to a sparkling 21-9 mark while advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Basketball Invitational Tournament, falling to North Texas, 56-53. Moreover, the Lions were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Atlantic Sun Conference. They came home third. One very notable win came when the Lions traveled to Nashville in their opener and defeated Vanderbilt.

So it is no surprise Tiber has North Alabama off to a 6-2 start this season. One of those losses was a tough 86-81 road setback to Iowa. The fast start was highlighted by the Lions winning both of their games last week in the University of Denver Classic.

“We have high expectations this season. We just need to stay healthy and stay together. This is really a tight knit group,” Tiber noted. “We have a very unselfish group. We are averaging 22.7 assists per game, second best in the nation. We really pass the ball. We are not a one-on-one team. We have great culture.”

Tiber welcomed back all five starters and nine letter-winners.

“I am happy with how we started. I love this group,” Tiber said. “These seniors are something else. I am embracing every moment with this group.”

Pre-season polls have the Lions finishing third in the Atlantic Sun regular season, trailing only Florida Gulf Coast and Liberty.

While North Alabama’s elevation to D-I last season played out well, Tiber says the transition is still a work in progress.

“Things are going OK (move to D-I) but we are still going to struggle with some things. We are still not eligible for the NCAA Tournament,” she noted. “It really has helped our recruiting. We just signed four really good players. We will be able to maintain.”

Tiber is now 105-73 at the Lions’ helm. She came to North Alabama after serving as the head women’s basketball coach at Southern Illinois University from 2009-13.

Tiber is a 1994 graduate of West Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science degree. She also has a master’s degree in Sport Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Tiber began her coaching career as an assistant at West Liberty before becoming head coach at D-II Belmont Abbey College. Her teams amassed an overall record of 81-36 and a conference mark of 61-19.

Belmont Abbey proved a springboard to landing the Tusculum University head position from 2005-09. She took a program at the bottom of the South Atlantic Conference and compiled a record of 86-34 and a conference mark of 40-20. Tusculum was 52-11 overall and 26-4 in conference play her last two years.

Her top assistant is Adrienne Harlow, another WLU hoop standout.

SAM ANDY CLASSIC

SAM ANDY is an Ohio Valley basketball legend. The former Wheeling High and Wheeling Park taskmaster amassed an amazing 611 wins to go with three West Virginia Class AAA state titles – just two of his countless coaching milestones. He died in July of 2016.

His legacy lives on through a hoop tournament that bears his name. The annual Sam Andy Classic is set for this Friday at WesBanco Arena with a sparkling tripleheader on tap.

The opener is a monster girls’ matchup as Wheeling Park and Fort Frye vieat 5:15 p.m. Two boys games follow. Michael Jebbia’s Wheeling Park Patriots face Scooter Tolzda’s Meadowbrook Colts at 7 p.m. The nightcap pits Magnolia against Cameron at 8:45.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 students. That is a small price to pay for three varsity tilts in a great venue. OVAC and WVSSAC passes will be accepted. Gates open at 4:15 p.m.

TOP 10 GRID GAMES

We completed our Top 10 football games in the last 50 years series this past Thursday. Although they didn’t make the Top 10, these other games were nominated for consideration.

* 1995 Bridgeport beat Ferry in final game of series.

* 2015 Steubenville at St. Clairsville.

* 2012 Shadyside beats 11-0 Bridgeport in playoff rematch.

* 2012 Bellaire-Shadyside renewal of a long dormant rivalry.

* 1978 Bridgeport 18 Ferry 7.

* 1989 St. Clairsville 6 Dover 0 playoff on Whg Island Stadium.

* 1979 Ferry 9 Bellaire 6 in Nelson Field mud. Ferry capped 10-0 season

* 1981 Bellaire 22 St. John Central 21.

* 2001 Shadyside-Wellsville Region 23 semifinal at Steubenville

* 2004 Weir at Bluefield WV Class AA semifinal.

*1998 Toronto-Norwalk St. Paul regional semifinal.

* Bellaire and Orrville in playoffs. Bellaire won 48-45.

*1989 Shadyside at River.

* 1991 Capital beats Wheeling Park, 15-14, in OT in W.Va. Class AAA state finals.

* 2006 Steubenville tops Kettering Archbishop Alter, 34-33, Ohio Division III state finals.

* 1979 Wheeling Central beats Wayne, 39-22, W.Va. Class AA state finals, Laidley Field, Charleston.

* 1998 Weir downs DuPont, 20-17, W.Va. Class AA state finals, Wheeling Island Stadium

* 2009 Parkersburg South d. Wheeling Park, 77-71, in two overtimes at Wheeling Island Stadium.

* 2012 Wahama d. Weirton Madonna, 43-42, in OT in W.Va. Class A finals, Wheeling Island Stadium.

* 1992 Buffalo Wayne d. Magnolia, 7-3, W.Va. Class AA finals, Laidley Field, Charleston.

My personal top 10 in order goes like this:

1. 1995 Bellaire-Versailles

2. 2001 Shadyside-Danville (Miracle at Meadowbrook)

3. 2010 Bishop Donahue-Wheeling Central playoff

4. 1984 Steubenville state title game over Whitehall

5. 1996 Bridgeport vs Linsly in (Meetin’ of Unbeatens)

6. 2012 Bellaire-Shadyside renewal of a long dormant rivalry.

7. 1989 St. Clairsville 6 Dover 0 playoff on Whg Island Stadium.

8. 1996 John Marshall state title game win vs. Capital.

9. 1998 Weir downs DuPont, 20-17, W.Va. Class AA state finals.

10. 2015 Wheeling Park’s state title game win.

BUBBA’S BITS

FORMER WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen wasted no time in turning around the grid fortunes at the University of Houston. Holgorsen took over an 8-5 program and turned in a 4-8 season with the Cougars. He is making $4 million a year at Houston.

THE DIVISION VII all-state football team in Ohio was a travesty. Shenandoah had three players make first-team all-Ohio and a fourth selected to the second team. Shadyside, meanwhile, a team that blanked Shenandoah 27-0 in the regular season had just one honoree. Sophomore standout Wyatt Reisman was deservedly a first-team honoree. No other Tiger earned all-Ohio accolades. Kelly Hendershot, a first-team all-Ohioan a year ago and one of the finest players in the OVAC, was relegated to special mention. Hendershot and the Shadyside grid program were dealt a major injustice.

FORMER SHADYSIDE High and Findlay University hoop standout Karli Bonar is now the freshman girls basketball coach at Upper Arlington High in Columbus. She is also a math teacher for the Golden Bears.

DENVER BRONCOS’ defensive line standout Derek Wolfe is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season after he dislocated his left elbow late in the game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. The former Beaver Local great had two quarterback sacks in the game and leads the Broncos with seven sacks on the season.

THE AUSTIN College women’s basketball team is off to a 5-0 start this season. The Sherman, Texas-based Kangaroos are coached by Michelle Bielanski Filander. The former St. John Central hoop great is in her 10th year at the Austin helm. She is also the school’s assistant athletic director. The 1997 SJC grad tallied 1,436 points in her Lady Irish career, earning a hoop scholarship to Robert Morris.

ALABAMA DROPPING to 12th in the latest College Football Playoff ratings is absurd.

IT WAS great to see WVU four-year starter Colton McKivitz earn first-team All-Big 12 honors as well as being the conference’s co-lineman of the year. Icing on the cake for the Union Local grad would be some All-American plaudits.

THE WESTERN Carolina men’s basketball team is off to a 6-2 start this year. The Catamounts are coached by Mark Prosser, a Wheeling Central grad and son of legendary coach Skip Prosser. Western Carolina travels to Xavier on Dec. 18 where Skip Prosser enjoyed a successful stint before heading off to Wake Forest.

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