It was an unusual situation at the top of the Region XIV women’s basketball standings following 2018-19 season. For 17 straight seasons, the league had the same champion each and every time — the Trinity Valley Lady Cardinals.
But in 2018-19, Tyler was the regular season champion, and Angelina defeated Tyler in the championship game of the Region XIV Tournament to earn its first berth to the national tournament in program history.
“It’s like throwing water on a hornets’ nest,” Tyler head coach Trenia Tillis Hoard said. “Trinity Valley reloaded big time. They’re always going to be an upper echelon program.”
Tyler brings back Region XIV Freshman of the Year — Felmas Koranga, a 6-foot-2 post from Kenya. Koranga averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season.
Te’Aire Hambrick, a sharp-shooting guard from LaPoynor, is also back, averaging 11.1 points and 3.2 rebounds.
The Apache Ladies went big in recruiting with the addition of 6-foot-1 wing Gerlyn Smith out of Miami, Florida, and Clara Rotich, a 6-foot-1 post from Kenya. Tyler also added Nala Heminway, who is a 5-foot-6 point guard from Lewisville.
“We have a little more size than we had last year, and we have players who like playing on both ends of the court,” Tillis Hoard said.
Angelina lost several players from its national tournament qualifying squad, including National Player of the Year Natasha Mack.
“You can’t replace a player like Tasha,” Angelina head coach Byron Coleman said. “She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player, possibly a future NJCAA Hall of Famer. You will never replace the things she did, along with Mia Perkins (daughter of former NBA player Sam Perkins), but we have a really talented front line with four kids who will be able to contribute. That was the main thing we were able to do in the offseason was address our depth.”
Britney Thompson — a 38 percent 3-point shooter — and Simran Mayfield are back for Angelina. Newcomers are Tyeisha Smith (Seton Hall transfer), Lovietta Walker and hometown product Mycah McDonald, who transferred from Central Christian College after a standout career at Lufkin High School.
Trinity Valley will once again be battling for conference supremacy. The Lady Cardinals return 5-foot-10 guard Curtessia Dean and 6-foot-2 forward Solmilena Herrerra.
Additions for Trinity Valley are Trinitee Harris, Mekayla Furman, Tiya Douglas, Asia Strong (Bradley), Kaye Clark, Monet Jones (LSU), Logong Gore, Ta’Niya Jackson, Jada Peacock (Wichita State) and Taiyanna Jackson.
Trinity Valley has won 263 of its last 289 games and has won the conference title in 26 of the past 28 years.
The Lady Cardinals lost in the semifinals of the NJCAA Tournament last season after finishing first or second in seven of the previous eight trips.
Rosalyn Tindel knows all about Region XIV from her eight years as the head coach at the now-defunct Lon Morris College.
Entering her second season at Paris, Tindel said her team is “young and still trying to figure out our identity.”
Keuna Cummings is a returner for the Lady Dragons after averaging 5.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 2018-19. Newcomers include Tahlia Casey (Texas A&M-Commerce) and Taia Smith (Kalamazoo Valley Community College).
Jacksonville hopes to take a step up in year two under Savannah Carter — a former player at Mississippi State — after going 3-18 in 2018-19.
Ca’Leyah Burrell is the leading returning scorer for the Lady Jaguars.
Newcomers for Jacksonville are Ruthie Fox, Alonna McGahee, Kyla Higgs, Maniya Watkins, Madison Jones, Jada Williams, Shaniya Klauser, Shanyah Williams, Kimberly Lillie, Tashayla Foster, Nakeya Kelley, Kayla Sellers and Zakiyah Upshaw.
“The team is looking stronger than the last team,” Carter said. “We are still dealing with the probationary period and lack of scholarships given.”
Bossier Parish is ready for its second season under Brenda Welch-Nichols, who joined the program from NCAA Division I Sam Houston State.
Bossier Parish returns Savannah Rojas, Angelle Darby, Lauren Walker and Alexandria Pollard (6-3 sophomore center). Newcomers are Autumn Goram, Rukiah Utley, Gabby Dodson, Elna Guardiola, Denesia Turks, Jazmin Sanders, Desiree Jones and Chasidy Ross.
Blinn brings back double-digit scorers Kristine Ezimako and Alanna Spencer, and head coach Jeff Jenkins said his team has “good depth and athleticism.”
Coastal Bend has 11 returners. Cassie Hogan, Jada Mitchell and Aubrey Guerra were all double-digit scorers. Tianie Johnson, Marley Martinez and Olivia Chisolm all saw significant action.
Sammie Santos played in six games last season and is also a member of the Coastal Bend volleyball team.
Liz Hicks, Brianna Castellano, Brianna Martinez, Candice Ellison, Khristina Dubree and Jada Sheridan are the newcomers for Coastal Bend.
In the Region V Western Junior College Athletic Conference, New Mexico is coming off of a national runner-up finish, falling to Gulf Coast State (Florida) in the title game.
New Mexico has five WJCAC titles and two co-conference championships in the past eight seasons and has made six national tournament appearances in that span.
Under the direction of Drew Sanders, who is 279-106 at New Mexico and 817-394 overall coaching high school boys, high school girls and junior college, New Mexico should once again be a threat.
The team lost its four leading scorers but do return Mayra Caicedo, Amaya Lewis, Brenda Costa and Selina Dockery.
Newcomers for New Mexico are Dawnyel Lair (Wichita State), Zaria Dorsey, Ebony Horton, Ellana Cabral, Maria Cecilia Dos Santo, Caliana Fencery, Tania Mir and Iris Diaz.
“We will not be as deep in the post position, and our freshmen posts and guards are going to have to be developed,” Sanders said.
Clarendon will look to climb to the upper half of the WJCAC standings after a 9-21 finish a year ago.
Carria Smith (Memphis, Tennessee), Kelzie Orr (Oklahoma City) and Mahogany Nails (Plainview) are all back in the fold.
Two-time state champion Taylor Sparks — a 5-foot-8 guard from Martin’s Mill High School — is part of the Lady Bulldogs’ recruiting class. She’s joined by LyTia Flowers (Holmes Community College), Jess Myers (Johnson County Community College) and Abbey Harrell (Highland Community College).
Frank Phillips returns De’Ajia Williams but will have basically a new roster.
“We have practically a whole new team that can shoot it but has a lot to learn before entering our conference,” Frank Phillips head coach Eric Rodewald said.
In the Region V North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, Hill claimed the top spot last season with a 14-2 league mark. Hill was 21-10 overall and finished the season ranked No. 25 in the final NJCAA poll.
Emily Cunningham, Brianna Pena, Daija Planas, Larisha Jones and Sydney Nunley are returning for Hill, and Tyquanna Ross, Destanee Roblow, Andreea Mancha, Kertisa Amos, Ayana Segrest, Kamill Rangell and Ki’ana Hart.
Hill trails only Collin County for most wins in the conference during the past six seasons.
Collin County was 23-7 last season and returns second-team All-American Destiny Thurman, Shala Robinson, Cardrina Nolan and Mikayla Alexander. Newcomers are Cyd Rivera, Lucy Ibeh, Anyssia Gibbs, Skye Dugan, Awatea Leach, Talynne Buckmon, Tamia Miller and Ari Clark.
Temple will hope to build on a 17-13 finish last season under the direction of veteran head coach Kim Sebek, who has a career record of 341-285.
Temple returns Brooke Lopez, who averaged 7.9 points per game as a freshman.
Keiarra Rivers, Starr Jacobs, Tiana Gardner, Jordyn Carter and Hannah Blair are expected to be impact newcomers for Temple.
Grayson brings back the leading scorer in the Conference — 5-foot-8 guard Manna Mensah, who put in 17.9 points per game last season.
Newcomers for Grayson are Tailor Broussard, Mystique Womack and Asha Donahue, a transfer from UC Riverside.
Head coach Bill Damuth said he likes his team’s depth.
Bill Foy, who led Paris to a men’s national title in 2005 and picked up his 400th career win last season, is entering his fourth season at Ranger.
Ranger is bringing back Angel Reese and Giordin Johnson, and newcomers are Bre’Asiajah Mathews, Paige Granstaff, Alena Wilson and Angel Kelly.
Mathews is a New Mexico transfer, and Granstaff averaged 15 points per game at Cowley County.
McLennan returns Ny’Asia Goldman, Kenidi White, Annya Moss, Elizabeth Critton, Seynabou Thiam, Jade Bradley and point Shequana Jackson. Newcomers are Jaidyn Fontentee, Kannessia Holbert, Melekaloni Kailahi, Khadidatou Niang, Marquise Nelson and Raija Todd.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Trinity Valley
6. Bossier Parish
8. Coastal Bend
1. South Plains
2. New Mexico
7. Western Texas
8. Frank Phillips
1. Collin County
9. Southwestern Christian
1. Mountain View
2. Cedar Valley