Article Courtesy of Phil Hicks, Tyler Morning Telegraph
JACKSONVILLE - Lubbock may not be an ideal spring break destination, but for the Apache Ladies it equates to a combination of Key West, South Padre Island and Daytona Beach.
The Texas Panhandle's hub city is the site of the 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament and that's where No. 21 Tyler Junior College would like to spend a week.
The journey toward Lubbock begins on Wednesday when TJC (23-7) takes on Blinn (19-10) in a Region XIV Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Jacksonville ISD's John Alexander Gymnasium.
The Apache Ladies have been ranked most of the season, but their schedule has seen its peaks and valleys. Twice they have had seven-game winning streaks, but that second seven gamer was followed by three straight losses.
Facing a daunting task of traveling to Brenham to take on a Blinn club that TJC had beaten in overtime last month in Tyler, a four-game losing streak was not out the question.
But the Apache Ladies rebounded and scored an 80-62 win.
"We needed that," TJC coach Trenia Tillis-Jones said. "It was not a just a victory, it was a moral victory because we had gone on a skid. When you go on a skid like that there's potential to chalk it up, give up and not want to play anymore."
But her team came out with more motivation and fire, she said. Thus, they enter the tournament with momentum.
Sophomore guard Nautica Grant, who attended Richardson High School, and sophomore post Sky'lynn Holmes, a Pine Tree graduate, are TJC's scoring leaders.
Grant leads the Apache Ladies by averaging 15.1 points per game. She is also an 80 percent free-throw shooter. Holmes, who has signed with Troy University, is averaging a near double-double with 15.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Holmes shoots 52.1 percent from the field.
Sophomore guard Lakendra Bass, who attended Fort Worth Trimble, is tops in assists at 4.3 per game.
After missing out on the national tournament last year after making it in 2015, the Apache Ladies are ready for a return engagement.
SMOKE SIGNALS: The winner of the TJC vs. Blinn game will take on the winner of Trinity Valley and Angelina at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. … Tickets are $25 (all-tournament), $6 (adults per session), $3 (students with ID and children over 5 per session) and free (children 5 and under).
Region XIV Women's Tournament
John Alexander Gymnasium, Jacksonville
Game 5 - No. 1 Trinity Valley (14-5) vs. No. 8 Angelina (15-15), 1 p.m.
Game 6 - No. 4 Tyler (23-7) vs. No. 5 Blinn (19-11), 3 p.m.
Game 7 - No. 2 San Jacinto (23-7) vs. No. 7 Jacksonville (17-12), 6 p.m.
Game 8 - No. 3 Panola (23-7) vs. No. 6 Kilgore (19-10), 8 p.m.
Game 13 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 14 - Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 17 - Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner, 6 p.m.