Hillgrove alum Lester honored with Elite 89 honor
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
April 13, 2014 04:02 AM | 1236 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maurissa Lester doesn’t just play basketball for Limestone College.

The sophomore guard wouldn’t want to make college life too easy on herself.

The former Hillgrove High School standout also serves as a resident assistant and tutors disabled students, all while finding enough study time to maintain a 4.0 grade-point average.

Although Lester was sidelined during the latter half of the 2013-14 season with a fractured fibula, she had worked her way to a starting position during the first half of the season, for a Limestone team that ultimately went 27-6 and made the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II tournament.

For her contributions on and off the court this past season, Lester was awarded the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Elite 89 Award.

“First off, it was really just an honor to get the award because there were so many student-athletes who made it to the elite eight and put hard work into academics,” said Lester, who was on the Hillgrove team that made the Class AAAAA state finals in 2012. “And to also contribute on the court, winning it was really huge for me.”

The Elite 89 Award is geared for student-athletes who have played for at least two seasons at their school and competed at a championship level while achieving the highest academic standard.

In terms of organizing her strenuous schedule at the Gaffney, S.C., college — particularly during basketball season — Lester said the key was remaining balanced, even if it meant staying up to the pre-dawn hours doing homework.

With two more years of basketball still to play at Limestone — and possibly a Division II championship to win — the biology major knows she has to keep her daily schedule “well-balanced.”

And while Lester plans to maintain her GPA during her upperclassman years, she’s also expected to take more of a leadership role at Limestone, with the potential of becoming a full-time starter.

Lester came off the bench to start this season and she quickly made her case for more playing time after delivering two 20-point games early in the season. One of those came in a win over North Greenville on Dec. 3, Lester said she was also in charge of defending North Greenville’s leading scorer, limiting her to one 3-pointer.

Lester was eventually placed into the starting five where she started her last five games before her injury in January. She had hoped to be fully recovered in time for the NCAA tournament, but rehab took longer than she expected.

“At first, I had to stay on crutches with no weight on it for the first month, and then I started rehab,” Lester said. “They didn’t want me coming back too soon to reinjure it. I rehabbed on weekends and my off days to come back as soon as I could.”

Lester did recover well enough to practice a couple of days prior to Limestone’s NCAA quarterfinal loss to West Texas A&M. She played one minute of the game, and looking back on it, she said she wasn’t sure if she was fully released.

“Coaches looked at it from a health perspective and knew one minute wouldn’t make a difference,” Lester said. “But I’ll be back out there next year, and we’ll do better next year.”

Lester logged 20 minutes per game for Limestone, averaging 8.6 points. She shot 38 percent from the field and was 33-percent successful (16-of-48) from behind the arc.
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