King keying UT Tyler's tourney run to Sweet 16

photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph UT Tyler's Brittany King is averaging 17 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the Patriots this season. The Mesquite Horn graduate transferred from Cisco College and has been a big reason the Patriots are enjoying their best season in school history.

After playing one season at Cisco College, Brittany King decided she wanted to go a four-year university.

So the Dallas native transferred to UT Tyler last year and made an immediate impact on the Patriots, earning second team honors on the All-American Southwest Conference basketball team.

That was just a forerunner to the spectacular season King is having in 2014.

She has been a big reason for UT Tyler earning its first ASC championship, first NCAA berth and first two NCAA wins.

The No. 17 Patriots (27-3) are playing in their first Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III National Tournament on Friday in Walla Walla, Wash. UT Tyler will face No. 1 Thomas More (Ky.) College (30-0) at 7 p.m. (CDT).

King, a junior who played at Mesquite Horn High School, is averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, ranking fourth in the ASC in scoring and first in rebounding.

King, an interdisciplinary studies major who wants to be a middle school math teacher, currently ranks 16th in the nation in field-goal percentage (57 percent) and was named the ASC Championship Tournament MVP. She also made first-team All-ASC.

The Patriots have won 14 straight games and two more wins will place them in the Final Four.

“At the beginning of the season we felt like we could be one of the best teams in the nation,” King said. “I guess now the whole nation knows.”

The team was building momentum last year and it has carried over to this season.

“After last season, with us making history (first postseason win), I knew this season could be special. When we set our goals, we knew we could meet those goals and break them,” she said.

King said a big reason for the success is team chemistry, along with the coaching staff of head coach Kevin Baker, assistant coach Cassi Little and graduate assistant Holly Phelps.

“I think the bond that we have with each other has made us a good team,” King said. “I’ve never been on a team that I loved everybody and I loved our coaches. It felt great coming to practice every single day.

“We work hard and push each other, but we love each other.”

Up next is top-ranked Thomas More, which is located in Crestview Hills, Ky. Former NFL player Randy Moss’ daughter, Sydney Moss plays for the Saints. She recently became the Division III record holder in single-game scoring when she dropped 63 points on Waynesburg (Pa.). She has 14 double-doubles in 29 games for the Saints.

“I watched Thomas More on film and looked at their stats … They are a very good team, obviously they are in the Sweet 16,” King said. “But I also feel they are a beatable team. If we do the things we need to do right that coach Baker tells us to do and we come out and play hard I think we can beat them.”

PATRIOT POINTS: If the Patriots win on Friday, they will face either Whitman (Wash.) or Christopher Newport (Va.) at 9 p.m. Saturday for the right to advance to the Final Four in Stevens Point, Wis., March 21-22. … In men’s NCAA Division III, fellow ASC member UT Dallas is in the Sweet 16. The Comets (27-3) play Wisconsin-Whitewater at 5 p.m. Friday in Stevens Point. … The men’s Final Four is in Salem, Va., March 21-22.

 
 

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Sports Editor

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.