ATHENS — It was expected to be a showdown between two of the hottest teams in the country.
Instead, it was a dominating performance by an unbeaten Trinity Valley team that was missing four players, including All-American Sha’Kayla Caples and 2011 Region XIV Tournament MVP Alice Robinson. With just six players available, the No. 1 Lady Cards were led by Oklahoma State transfer Keuna Flax and a relentless defense to score a 90-55 win over No. 16 Tyler Junior College on Saturday at Cardinal Gym.
It was TVCC’s 27th straight win, while TJC saw its 11-game winning streak snapped. The Apache Ladies (22-6, 13-3 Region XIV) last loss was a 103-96 OT decision to Trinity Valley back on Jan. 11 in Tyler. TVCC moved to 16-0 in league play, clinching its 11th straight conference title.
In the second game, the Cardinals scored a 71-56 win over the Apaches.
TJC is on the road again on Wednesday, traveling to Kilgore College. The women play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30 p.m. TVCC travels to Paris the same night with the same starting times.
Before the game, TVCC co-head coach Kenya Landers said Robinson, Caples and Jenea Barrett were suspended for breaking team rules, while ShaQuita Arnick was injured. The suspensions and injuries left the Lady Cardinals with just six players. The loss of the talented group seemed to inspire the remaining Lady Cardinals.
Flax led the way with 30 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks. Brittney Gill was next with 24 points, while Starr Breedlove (13) and Ashley Jones (10) were also in double figures. Jones had 11 boards.
The Apache Ladies were led Keaira Akrion (14 points) and Cecilia Okoye (12). Leading scorers Ericka House and Markisha Hawkins were held to nine and eight points, respectively. Ashley Benjamin, who was averaging in double figures was held scoreless. Benjamin did have 12 rebounds. Okoye had 10 boards, while Kiribi Clark had nine. Shwanee Johnson, who usually hits in double digits, was held to six points.
“We couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” TJC coach Trenia Jones said. “We missed shots that we normally make.
“Trinity Valley players saw their opportunity (with other players out) and they stepped up.”
The Apache Ladies had played so well in their 11-game win streak, but they did not resemble that team.
TVCC came out on fire and never let up.
“I can’t say enough about these young ladies,” said Kenya Landers, who is the co-coach of TVCC with her husband Michael Landers. “They came out and executed the gameplan to perfection. With the four players out, they got the opportunity and stepped up.”
She did not say when the players will return from the suspensions. Caples is the leading scorer in Region XIV at 20.4 per game, while Robinson is one of the top rebounders at 7.9. Also, Barrett averages 12.9 ppg.
TVCC plays at Paris on Wednesday, before hosting Panola on March 3.
Jones added her team will regroup and prepare for a road game against Kilgore and a home finale against Blinn on March 3 before the Region XIV Tournament in Tyler March 7-11.
The Apaches (16-10, 9-8 Region XIV) led at halftime and 49-48 with 6:05 to go in the game. At that point, high-scoring guard D.D. Scarver hit for 10-straight points and suddenly TJC was behind 58-49.
“It was too much D.D. Scarver,” TJC coach Mike Marquis said. “He got on a roll.”
For the game, Scarver led with 31 points, including 12 of 12 from the free throw line.
Trent Washington paced the Apaches with 16 points, while Hershey Robinson added 12.
“We are playing pretty good defense; we just need to get our offense going,” Marquis said. “We will go back to practice, try to get better and get ready for Kilgore Wednesday.”
TVCC (19-9, 12-5) was helped by Daniel Ehmabe’s 13 points.
Staff writer Jimmy Hicks contributed to this story.
Region XIV Basketball
No. 1 Trinity Valley Community College 90, No. 16 Tyler Junior College 55
TYLER — Ericka House, 9; Markisha Hawkins, 8; Amber Ames, 0; Carolina Lopez, 2; Ashley Benjamin, 0; Keaira Arion, 14; Cecilia Okoye, 12; Shawnee Johnson, 6; Kirbi Clark, 4.
TRINITY VALLEY — Breanna Lewis, 9; Starr Breedlove, 13; Ashley Jones, 10; Brittney Gill, 24; Keiana Vines, 4; Keuna Flax, 30.
THREE-POINT GOALS — TJC: House (3), Arion (2), Johnson. TVCC: Lewis, Gill (2), Flax (5).
HALFTIME SCORE — TVCC 37, TJC 22.
FREE THROWS — TJC 7 of 12; TVCC 20 of 25.
TOTAL FOULS — TJC 18; TVCC 10.
RECORDS — Tyler 22-6 (13-3), Trinity Valley 27-0 (16-0).
NEXT UP — Tyler at Kilgore, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; Trinity Valley at Paris, 5:30 p.m.
Trinity Valley Community College 71, Tyler Junior College 56
TYLER — Jaron Johnson, 7; Trevor Berkeley, 6; Trent Washington, 16; Tyler Brunson, 0; Hershey Robinson, 12; Kameron LaTouche, 0; Chris Coleman, 1; Ta’Jon Welcome, 5; Abdi Nur, 0; Daniel Edozie, 9.
TRINITY VALLEY — Devon Agusi, 0; Daniel Ehambe, 13; Will Bond, 6; D.D. Scarver, 31; Abdul Ahmed, 6; Billy Johnson, 6; Dominique Elliot, 9; Collin Weyand, 0.
THREE-POINT GOALS — TJC: Johnson, Washington (4), Robinson, Welcome. TVCC:
HALFTIME SCORE — TJC 26, TVCC 23.
FREE THROWS — TJC 14 of 19; TVCC 17 of 25.
RECORDS — Tyler 16-10 (9-8), Trinity Valley 19-9 (12-5).
NEXT UP — Tyler at Kilgore, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; Trinity Valley at Paris, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
EST. ATT. — 1,000.