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The No. 10 Apache Ladies started their Thanksgiving week on a festive note, scoring an 81-69 win over No. 8 New Mexico Junior College in matchup of women’s basketball powers on Monday at Wagstaff Gymnasium.

Tyler Junior College’s All-America forward Felmas Koranga led the way with 27 points and gobbled up 21 rebounds. The 6-1 sophomore from Rift Valley, Kenya also stuffed the Thunderbirds with five blocked shots.

The victory avenged a 91-54 loss on Nov. 3 on NMJC’s homecourt in Hobbs, New Mexico.

“We were out of our element there (not playing TJC’s game). Out there we shot the ball terrible,” said TJC coach Trenia Tillis Hoard, whose club is 6-2. “Today, we played team ball. We played good, solid ball today.”

As Tillis Hoard likes to say, “We just need a pound cake with no icing.” That’s the baking the Apache Ladies did as students came to the gym to enjoy the matinee basketball.

Te’Aire Hambrick, TJC’s sharp-shooting sophomore from Larue, and Niya McGuire, a 6-0 forward from Monroe, Louisiana, added 14 points apiece.

McGuire also had seven rebounds with a block with guard Gerlyn Smith (6-1, Fr., Miramar, Florida) adding five boards and two blocks.

New Mexico JC (7-4) had four players in double figures, led by Dawnyel Lair, who had 18 points and six rebounds. Other top scorers for the Thunderbirds were Selina Dockery (13), Amaya Lewis (12) and Eliana Cabral (11).

TJC led 36-33 at halftime. After NMJC pulled within 44-42 in the third quarter, but the Apache Ladies ended the period on a 15-4 run to take a 59-46 lead.

The Apache Ladies then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter for a 64-46 lead when Smith rebounded and put back a bucket with 8:22 showing.

TJC also led 80-63 with 1:41 left when Nala Hemingway, a freshman point guard from Lewisville, swished a trey.

Also scoring for TJC were Kharisima Brown (9 points), Smith (8), Hemingway (7) and Diamond Atchinson (2).

The Apache Ladies will now take part in the Collin College Thanksgiving Classic Friday and Saturday in Plano. Games on Friday have Kilgore College meeting Seminole State of Oklahoma at 11 a.m., followed by TJC playing host Collin at 1 p.m. On Saturday, TJC plays Seminole State at 11 a.m., followed by KC vs. Collin at 1 p.m.

New Mexico JC, which finished as national runner-up last year, opens Region V Conference play on Dec. 4 against Western Texas in Snyder.

SMOKE SIGNALS: The Apache Ladies open Region XIV Conference play on Dec. 4 against Paris JC in Tyler (5:30 p.m. start). ... The TJC men, ranked No. 20 with a 6-0 record, are home for a couple of games on Friday (3 p.m. vs. Irving Creating Young Minds Academy) and Saturday (3 p.m. vs. Grayson College). The Apaches, who began Region XIV on Saturday with a 73-55 win over at Lamar State-Port Arthur, are home on Dec. 4 as well, meeting Lee College (7:30 p.m. tipoff).

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No. 10 Tyler JC 81, No. 8 New Mexico JC 69

New Mexico JC 19 14 13 23 — 69

Tyler JC 26 10 23 22 — 81

NMJC — Dawnyel Lair, 18; Amaya Lewis, 12; Ebony Horton, 6; Mayra Caicedo, 9; Brenda Costa, 0; Zaria Dorsey, 0; Selina Dockery, 13; Eliana Cabral, 11; Maria Cecelia Dos Santos, 0.

TJC — Te’Aire Hambrick, 14; Felma Koranga, 27; Kharisima Brown, 9; Diamond Atchison, 2; Nala Hemingway, 7; Gerlyn Smith, 8; Frankazia Boyd, 0; Niya McGuire, 14.

THREE-POINT GOALS — NMJC: Lewis, Horton (2), Caicedo. TJC: Hambrick, Hemingway, Smith.

FREE THROWS — NMJC 13 of 21; TJC 12 of 18.

TECHNICAL — New Mexico JC bench.

RECORDS — NMJC 7-4, Tyler 6-2.

NEXT UP — NMJC at Western Texas, 4:45 p.m. (MST), Dec. 4; Tyler vs. Collin, 1 p.m. Friday, Plano.

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

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.

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