FLORENCE, S.C. – Marion native ShaNiya Lester returned home last week to lead her UNC Pembroke team against Francis Marion University on their Senior Night in women's basketball action.

FMU won the game 66-55 in a battle between Peach Belt Conference foes. However, for Lester, the game was meaningful seeing family and friends in the stands.

“To be honest, I was just happy and thankful to see so many familiar faces,” Lester said. “Also due to the fact most of them haven’t seen me play in person since maybe my JV or even recreation league days in Marion.”

Lester, a senior guard led UNC Pembroke (11-16, 6-13) with seven points and eight rebounds in the game.

Lester recently scored a season high 18 points against USC Aiken. She finished her career this past Sunday scoring 15 points in 73-64 loss to Georgia Southwestern.

The basketball star out of North Mecklenburg High School was an all conference player that led her team with 16.8 points per game as a senior.

Lester spent her first two seasons of college basketball at Catawba Valley Community College where she earned All-America and All Region recognition along with being named the team’s MVP twice. She averaged 20.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game as a sophomore and reached double-digit scoring numbers in more than 50 games with the team.

During her first season with the Lady Braves as a junior, she played in all 28 games with four starts. Lester averaged 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds her senior season.

“My senior year was better than my junior year but I still believe my senior could’ve been a lot better,” she said. “My experience in college was one for the books since I have accomplished so many things that a lot of people said I wouldn’t do.”

UNC Pembroke coach John Haskins said he enjoyed coaching Lester and that she adjusted to have a very good season.

“She is a very competitive kid that plays extremely hard,” he said. “She is very athletic, very strong and very aggressive. She is one of the hardest playing kids we’ve had in a while. I thought every night she was really good defensively. Defense and rebounding was there every night and she just really competed at a high level and I really enjoyed coaching her.”

Haskins said the team had good wins on the season and dealt with injuries but were competitive.

Lester is the daughter of Renata Timmons and John Lester. Her hobbies include playing video games, dancing and cooking while also studying sports management at UNCP.

Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.

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