Bonner, 20th-Ranked Tigers Open in Huntsville

Auburn, Ala.--Senior DeWanna Bonner says she and her teammates are tired of practice and are ready to play a game that counts.

On Friday they will get that chance as the Tigers tip off the 2008-2009 season with a road game in Huntsville vs. Alabama A&M. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at T.M. Elmore Gymnasium.

"After a while practice gets old," says Bonner, who was selected by both coaches and media as the SEC Preseason Player of the Year. "We are ready to play against somebody new. You never really know what you have until you play a full 40-minute game with refs, fans and everything.

"For this game, we are going to be back in Sherell's and Ree's hometown so that is going to make it even more exciting for us," Bonner says, noting that senior Sherell Hobbs and her sister, sophomore Ree-Ree, are from Huntsville. Sherell is a preseason second team All-SEC pick at guard.

Ree-Ree Hobbs has missed the last two seasons with injury problems, but played well in the exhibition game with 12 points and five assists in 16 minutes.

Bonner scored 30 points and added 10 rebounds in Auburn's 103-37 victory over Division II Anderson College on Sunday in the exhibition game. She hit 13-17 field goals, was 2-2 on threes, 2-2 at the foul line and added three steals in 26 minutes of action.

Freshman Chantel Hilliard, a 6-2 forward, scored 16 points in the exhibition game and another freshman, point guard Morgan Jennings, added 12 points with six assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes of court time.

Alli Smalley, a sophomore guard, scored 17 points for the Tigers on Sunday.

The Tigers go into the regular season ranked 20th and 21st in the major polls. Coach Nell Fortner says that she and her players haven't discussed the preseason rankings because they are more concerned about where the team is ranked at the end of the season.

"We are looking forward to getting started," the coach says. "We are planning to play fast-even faster than we did last year," she adds.

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