2. Trinity Valley
9. Coastal Bend
|REGION V - NORTH TEXAS
4. Collin County
9. Southwestern Christian
1. New Mexico
2. South Plains
6. Frank Phillips
8. Western Texas
1. Dallas College Cedar Valley
2. Dallas College Mountain View
3. Richland College
The NJCAA Division I women’s basketball championship has returned to Texas.
The Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies — as the No. 17 seed — captured the national title with a 92-80 win over No. 3 Georgia Highlands College in the championship contest.
It was the first title for the state of Texas since Trinity Valley won three straight from 2012-14. Trinity Valley lost in the championship game in 2016-18 and again in 2021. Region V representative New Mexico was in the title game in 2019, and the national tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tyler earned a spot in the national tournament despite losing its opening game of the Region XIV Tournament to Angelina. The Apache Ladies opened the event with a 67-65 overtime win over Chipola. The Apache Ladies followed that with a 70-42 blowout win over No. 1 Three Rivers and wins over No. 8 Arizona Western and Western Nebraska before the championship meeting with Georgia Highlands.
It was the first championship victory for Tyler since 2000.
Now, flip the calendar more than six months later and the Apache Ladies feature an entirely new squad.
“There’s a big bullseye on us, but who are they going to hit,” Tyler head women’s basketball coach Trenia Tillis Hoard said. “There’s not one returner. We’re walking into this season with nine new players. Our backs are against the wall, and there’s a target on our back, but we’ve got to play.”
Even with a new roster, Tillis Hoard sees a possibility for improvement on last season’s 28-8 record.
“That leaves room to get better,” she said. “You want eight or less losses. We had eight losses last year, so now you’re striving to get seven or less. If we get under seven losses this year, then we’re doing pretty good, because that makes us 23-7, and then you see what happens after that.”
Tyler has two bigs — 6-2 Atria Dumas and 6-3 Sian Phipps. Victoria Dixon is a guard who Tillis Hoard describes as a “speedy guard that can shoot inside and outside.” Kianna Bennett comes from Shelbyville High School, and Tillis Hoard said, “she can flat out shoot the basketball.”
Fanta Kone is “an international guard that has a crazy motor,” Tillis Hoard said. “Her motor, her speed and awareness of the game are great. She’s a freshman, but she’s an international kid that’s had a lot more experience, so she kind of elevates everyone around her, because they have to play at her speed.”
Tillis Hoard is also high on Lillian Jackson, who is from Arkansas. “If Lillian ever develops a motor, she might be one of the best TJC has seen,” Tillis Hoard said.
Before Tillis Hoard, who picked up her 500th career victory last season, is inducted into the 2023 class of the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame on May 20, 2023, for her playing days at Grapeland High School, she will once again lead her team through the gauntlet of Region XIV competition.
“Kilgore just loaded up with transfers. Trinity Valley just loaded up period. Blinn is loaded up with kids. And it doesn’t stop there. It is what it is. You’ve got to come to play. That’s mighty Region XIV right there for you,” Tillis Hoard said.
Kilgore went 15-14 last season and welcomes in Stephanie Williams as the new head coach.
Williams was recently the head girls basketball coach at The Brook Hill School in Bullard and then at North Caddo High School (Louisiana). She spent last season as the head women’s basketball coach at Bossier Parish Community College before the school decided to stop the women’s basketball program.
“It was devastating, because everybody knows I had an interim tag, and the fact that we had such a successful season, one of the better ones in four or five years, you’re expecting that interim tag to be removed, set a foundation and continue to get better,” Williams said. “When that happened, I was definitely devastated, but I understood the business part of it. But that didn’t take away the hurt.”
Williams knew she would get another job. It wasn’t a matter of if, but where.
“God works in mysterious ways,” she said. “I knew when it happened, I had put so much into the Bossier job, that God would take care of me, one way or another.”
Williams landed the job at Kilgore, where she is bringing with her Makaila Lewis and Jermia Green, who both played for her at Bossier Parish. Kilgore also has transfers Aaliyah Davis (Christian Community College), Kamryn Gibson (Incarnate Word), Alyssia Thorne (Western Texas College), Aylanna Winn (Salt Lake Community College and Emmia Johnson (Coahoma Community College). The Lady Rangers also added local high school products Jakyiah Bell (Gladewater) and Nyla Inmon (Tyler Legacy).
Thorne is also a former standout at Tyler Legacy.
Lewis was the leading scorer (19.0 points) in Region XIV last year and averaged 10.4 rebounds.
Trinity Valley (27-7, 14-4) made its 15th consecutive trip to the NJCAA Tournament and 27th appearance overall last season before falling in the quarterfinals to national finalist Georgia Highlands.
Precious Ivy returns four double-digit scorers — Abby Cater (13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds), Kaila Kelley (12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds), Briana Peguero (11.3 points) and Athens High School product Makiyah McCollister (13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists).
The Lady Cardinals add six Division I transfers (Ashanti Barnes (Old Dominion), Lafaedria Green (Louisiana), Khya Hough (Kennesaw State), Chimera Iloanya (Tennessee State), Emani Jenkins (Wichita State) and Destinee McDowell (North Texas).
“With one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation and playing in one of, if not, the best conferences/regions in the nation, I look forward to preparing my team to compete at a high level through another battle-tested season,” Ivy said. “We are locked in and have been working hard. I’m excited about the opportunity to go to battle with this group and help these young ladies reach our goals, academically and athletically.”
Under the direction of head coach Jeff Jenkins, Blinn (28-5, 14-4) is expected to contend for the top spot in Region XIV once again.
Angelina (21-10, 10-8) is set for a new season under head coach Byron Coleman. The Lady Roadrunners return 6-1 Matilda Gordon, who averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds but only played in nine games before tearing her ACL. Jakayla Parks (7 points, 7 rebounds) and Makayla Williams (7.0 points). Newcomer Shanbriah Rule averaged 15 points and 4.0 rebounds at high school in Mississippi.
Panola (21-8, 12-6) will have a new head coach as Alex Furr became the associate head coach at North Texas. Chelsea Hudson, who was an assistant for Tillis Hoard with national champion Tyler last season, will take over. The other assistant on that staff, Bre Brooks, is now Williams’ assistant at Kilgore.
Panola brings back Lyric Scott and Sharyah Johnson and adds transfers Gabby Owens (McLennan), Gionna Carr (Tennessee State), Emily Mandamin (Butler Community College) and Kadresha Smith (Coastal Alabama Community College).
Paris (10-20, 6-12) returns Nykesha Sanders (6.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists) and Ra’nae Tumblin for head coach Brittany Christian. Sanders led the conference in assists last season and finished fourth in the nation, and she currently holds a 4.0 GPA.
Terry Gray is entering his second season as head coach at Jacksonville. Delberta Guillory-Smith, Salaya Holmes and Halley Rucker come in as transfers. The Lady Jaguars add size from their freshmen with the additions of 6-3 Keasia Robinson and 6-2 Jalynn Schmaltz and 6-4 Moe Okih.
Coastal Bend (3-26, 1-17) will look to move up in the league standings under head coach Nathan Purswell. The Lady Cougars return Jada Beasley and Taryanna McNary. Newcomers include Blinn transfer Shayla DeDe.
In Region V’s North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, Hill is entering year No. 11 under head coach Scott Hyland (195-104 at Hill, 327-259 overall) — the all-time wins leader at both Hill College and Paris Junior College, joining Larry Tidwell to be the all-time wins leader at two different colleges in the state of Texas.
Hill went 20-11, 13-3 last season, winning the conference for the second straight year and third in four years.
Brandalyn Rice (9.9 points, 6.4 rebounds) is back. Giani Wimbish-Gay is a 5-8 combo guard who averaged 7.2 points per game for The Master’s, which advanced to the NAIA national quarterfinals.
Grayson (19-12, 12-4) finished right behind Hill in the NTJCAC standings. Head coach Bill Damuth’s squad returns Sonja Schuch, Maureen Okoli and Kiyara Howard-Garza of Duncanville. Abey Priscilla, Sephora Kayolo and Diarra Sissoko. Grayson has sent 11 players to the Division I level in the past three seasons.
Ranger (15-15, 9-7) brings back Emily Vidal (11.9 points) and Chloe Malone for head coach Gabi Laurent. Ranger adds transfers Paula Puzule and Olivia Collier-Tuipulotu (both of Cloud County Community College), Sanaiya Morris (Lawson State), Mariya Taser (UT Rio Grande Valley), Destinee Paulk (Dodge City), Zaria Brown (Friends University), Lataviah Miller (Texas Wesleyan) and Keaundra Kelly (Kansas Christian).
Temple (18-11, 10-6), Collin County (17-11, 9-7), Weatherford (15-11, 9-7) and McLennan (14-14, 8-8) will all fight to compete at the top of the conference. Cisco (5-22, 2-14) and Southwestern Christian (3-24, 0-16) will look for improvement in the 2022-23 season.
Bill Brock, who spent 18 seasons on Kim Mulkey’s staff at Baylor University serving as an assistant coach and associate head coach, takes over at McLennan.
New Mexico (26-5, 12-2) took the top spot in the Region V Western Junior College Athletic Conference last season in the first season under head coach Austin Mefford (81-16).
Clarendon (24-9, 7-7) took fourth in the WJCAC last season. Mark James (161-163 overall, 90-86 at Clarendon) returns Mah Minthe (12.2 points, 5 rebounds), Aileen Marquez (17 points, 49 percent 3-pointers), Autumn Wadsworth (9 points, 4 assists) and JoJo Munroe. Newcomers 6-1 Djessira Diawara and 6-4 VCU transfer Camila Contreras are expected to come in and make an impact in the frontcourt.
“There’s a feeling of unfinished business within our program,” James said. “Having lost in the region championship game last season has really given our returners a high level of focus and determination.
Howard finished in the eighth and final spot in the WJCAC last season, going 9-19 overall and 1-13 in league play. Under veteran head coach John Ishee, the Lady Hawks look to take a step upt his season.
Howard returns Kaeona Marquez (11 points), Daysha Tijerina (10 points), Kyla Daniel, Malgorzata Byczkowska (16 points) and Jaiden Shells. Transfers Selena Humphrey, Breanna Jolley, D’Kiera Johnson and Victoria Gonzalez bring size, along with a freshman class that includes eight players, including Ann Mary Zachariah.
Midland (21-7, 11-3) and South Plains (22-9, 11-3) will look to challenge New Mexico and Clarendon for the top spot in the WJCAC. Western Texas (12-14, 6-8), Odessa (8-18, 5-9) and Frank Phillips (12-17, 3-11) will look to climb the standings.
South Plains and New Mexico both made the NJCAA National Tournament last season. New Mexico lost in the first round to Jones, while South Plains defeated North Dakota SCS and Northwest Florida before falling to Western Nebraska in the quarterfinals.