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Rishonda Napier making instant impact

Former Bell-Jeff basketball standout finding success during freshman season at Southern Illinois.

November 15, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • Former Bell-Jeff standout Rishonda Napier is a freshman at Southern Illinois University.
Former Bell-Jeff standout Rishonda Napier is a freshman… (Courtesy of Saluki…)

Keeping tabs on local athletes competing in college.

Rishonda Napier (Bellarmine-Jefferson High), freshman, guard, Southern Illinois women’s basketball): The former Guards star has been getting playing time out of the gate in her first season on the collegiate level.

Napier made an instant impact in her first college action Nov. 2, as the Salukis earned an 82-57 win over Central Methodist in an exhibition game at home. Napier poured in 20 points in the win. In addition to leading the team in scoring, Napier also dished out nine assists with just three turnovers and pulled down seven rebounds. She also led the team with four three-pointers on eight attempts.

“I think she is going to be a special player,” Southern Illinois Coach Missy Tiber said on the university’s website. “She has a good basketball mind and she is a good student, too. She's very smart. I think she is going to have a great career here with us.”

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In an exhibition game Nov. 6 at home, Napier played well and helped Southern Illinois get past Missouri-St. Louis, 72-48. Napier tallied eight points and chipped in six assists in the win.

Napier tallied six points, four rebounds and two steals Tuesday in a 56-46 loss at home to Central Arkansas in the Salukis’ season-opener.

Kevin Hunter (Burbank High), junior, quarterback, Chapman University: The former Bulldog and Glendale Community College standout got the chance to shine late in the season when injuries decimated the Panthers’ quarterbacking corps.

Hunter played well Nov. 10 against California Lutheran University in a battle for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs on the line. However, Cal Lutheran ran off 24-straight second-half points and secured a 38-28 win at Chapman.

Chapman finished the season 6-3 (5-2 in conference) and in third in the SCIAC, its best season since 2007.

Chapman led, 14-7, at halftime and, 21-14, at the 9:31 mark of the third quarter after junior wide receiver Robin Harris scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Hunter. The junior quarterback completed 14 of 21 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

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