Apache Ladies advance to finals

TJC (20) Princess Cole runs up against and nocks over (24) Crystal Jones at the old Lon Morris stadium in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE — Just when the Apache Ladies needed a boost, Brittny Norris answered the call.

Norris swished two straight 3-pointers late in the second half that ingited an 18-7 run as No. 2 seed Tyler Junior College scored a 70-61 over No. 6 Bossier Parish Community College in the semifinals of the Region XIV Women's Basketball Tournament on Friday at Jacksonville ISD Gymnasium.

Tyler (28-3) advances to the Region XIV final for the second straight year. The Apache Ladies, ranked No. 7 in the nation, will meet No. 1 seed and No. 4 nationally ranked Trinity Valley (28-3) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The winner receives an automatic bid to the NJCAA National Tournament March 16 to 21 in Salina, Kansas. Even the runner-up is likely to receive an at-large bid since both teams are ranked in the top 10. Last year, Region XIV received two at-large bids (Tyler, Blinn) as well as an automatic qualifier (TVCC).

Trinity Valley advanced to the finals with a 73-53 victory over San Jacinto in the first semifinal.

Norris hit for 22 points and was 6 of 15 from 3-point land as the Apache Ladies made 12 from long distances.

"(Brittny) was a leader when we needed her," TJC coach Trenia Tillis-Jones said. "We needed her to step up and hit some big shots. Brittny shot with confidence. There was times when she was tired and she had some errant shots, but when we needed them, it was money. When it was coming off her hand I was praying, Lord, Lord, Lord, let this go in."

The Apache Ladies trailed 54-52 with 7:21 left in the game when La'Dencia Johnson, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Cavaliers, banked in a shot.

After a putback by Sandy Jackson tied the game at 54, Norris, a sophomore from Dallas, connected on back-to-back 3s, the second from well beyond NBA range. That gave TJC a 60-54 lead with 5:59 to go in the game.

"I had been shooting 3s all game and they were falling," Norris said. "We needed to find a way to score and I shot it. I was so happy they went in."

The Lady Cavaliers (18-13) got right back in the game as Johnson hit another inside shot, with Jeannie Myles firing a 3 as BP trailed 60-59 at the 3:58 mark.

However, Norris had two more 3s, sandwiched around a Chelsi Watson putback for a 68-59 advantage with 1:51 to go.

Watson had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jasmine Prophet had 11 points and five blocks. Princess Cole had nine points. Sandy Jackson had six points and seven rebounds.

Crystal Jones led the Lady Cavs with 20 points.

"We knew Bossier Parish was going to come out and give us everything they had," TJC coach Trenia Tillis-Jones said. "That team has played a lot of teams close. We were that team that they have never played close. … They played Trinity Valley close, they beat Blinn, they played San Jac to within four. … We knew what they were capable of."

Now, it is Trinity Valley once again. The Lady Cardinals defeated TJC, 72-62, in the championship last year at UT Tyler.

During the regular season the Lady Cardinals won 72-66 in Tyler on Jan. 21 and 70-61 on Feb. 14 in Athens.

"We wanted this opportunity (to meet TVCC)," Tillis-Jones said. "We have to go in there and give it everything we got. We don't have anything to lose. They're the ones with the pressure. Nobody is expecting us to win, but we are expecting us to win.

"I told the kids I'm not worried about you going out there trying to beat Trinity Valley, I'm worried about you going out there and giving it everything you've got."

Tillis-Jones was also happy the Apaches will be playing in the finals as well. The men will play San Jacinto at 8 p.m. Saturday.

"It is an awesome thing for both of us to be playing," she said, adding TJC is hopeful of a big crowd from the Rose City. "Jacksonville should be called Tyler Junior. The blessing of this … they took the tournament out of Tyler. Everybody did not want us to have the homecourt advantage. Taking away that homecourt advantage suddenly became a homecourt advantage because we came over here and played like we were at home."

In TVCC's win over San Jacinto, the Lady Cardinals had four players in double figures, led by Autummn Williams' points. Jazmine Spears had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.


Region XIV Women's Tournament


No. 2 Tyler Junior College 70, No. 6 Bossier Parish Community College 61

BOSSIER PARISH — Jeannine Myles, 9; La'Dencia Johnson, 18; Andreanna Jackson, 3; Keanna Rainwater, 0; Crystal Jones, 20; Charity Robinson, 7; Desiree Lyons, 0; Diamond Willis, 2; I'mUnique Bryant, 2; Elena Greely, 0.

TYLER — Jade Jones, 4; Victoria Kemokai, 4; Taudenciah Eluoch, 0; Amber Driver, 4; Brittny Norris, 22; Chelsi Watson, 10; Princess Cole, 9; Jasmine Prophet, 11; Sandy Jackson, 6.

THREE POINT GOALS — BPCC (2-13): Myles, Jackson. TJC (12-31): Kemokai, Norris (6), Colle (3), Prophet (2).

HALFTIME SCORE — Tyler 40-31.

RECORDS — Bossier Parish 18-13, Tyler 28-3.







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I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.