March Madness officially arrived at the Region XIV Basketball Tournament on Thursday.
The No. 17-ranked Apache Ladies fought back from a 14-point second-half deficit and then survived late free throw attempts from upset-minded Angelina as Tyler Junior College scored a wild 84-83 quarterfinal victory at Wagstaff Gymnasium.
The No. 2 seeded Apache Ladies (24-7) advance to Saturday’s semifinals where they will face No. 6 Blinn 22-9. Tipoff is 3 p.m.
No. 7 Angelina ends its season at 12-18, including three tight losses to TJC.
It appeared the game was headed to overtime when Diamond Webb was fouled on a 3-point attempt with just a second remaining and her team trailing 84-81.
Webb calmly and quickly knocked down the first two tosses, but after a mass substitution, she missed the third and TJC’s Kirbi Clark leaped high for the rebound as the buzzer sounded.
Webb fell to the floor with her jersey over her head. Still, she had an outstanding game with 23 points.
Markisha Hawkins led Tyler with 26 points, while Cecilia Okoye added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Erick House scored nine points.
Angelina was paced by the inside play of Carlesha Wyatt (30 points, nine rebounds) and the outside play of Webb (23 points).
Tyler shot a sizzling 72 percent (18-25) in the second half, which included three straight 3-pointers by House to get the Apache Ladies back in the contest.
“It’s March and it was madness right there,” TJC coach Trenia Jones said. “It seemed like neither team wanted the game. We had turnovers … but our kids kept playing; kept fighting. We missed some key free throws that could have locked the game up.
“In the end this is what you want postseason to be.”
AC coach Byron Coleman thought his Lady Roadrunners were ready to pull off the upset.
“I’m proud of the effort. I told the girls we had nothing to lose,” Coleman said. “We just came up a play short here, a free throw there and a referee call there.”
With Tyler trailing 55-41 with 15:03 to go in the game, the mood was somber in Wagstaff Gym except for anyone wearing orange.
But suddenly the Apache Ladies got down to business.
Hawkins, Shawnee Johnson and House (three) all hit 3-pointers to get TJC back in the game.
“We couldn’t panic; we knew we had enough time,” Hawkins said. “We just said we have to play it a possession at a time.”
Tyler finally tied the game at 61-61 on a three-point play by Hawkins with 7:57 to go.
Eventually TJC took a 76-70 lead as the Apache Ladies hit six-straight free throws (four by Okoye and two by Ashley Benjamin).
Then it seemed the teams played give away.
TJC took an 83-78 lead as Johnson hit a free throw and Okoye followed with a rebound and putback of Johnson’s free throw miss with 58.5 seconds left.
But with 37.5 seconds showing Wyatt, who normally plays around the basket, stepped back and connected on a 3-pointer and the Lady Roadrunners were within two, 83-81.
TJC had a chance to put the game away, but missed three free throw attempts, but AC turned the ball over twice.
Finally with 12.8 seconds left, Johnson forced an AC turnover and on the inbounds play was fouled. She missed the first free throw, but made the second for an 84-81 lead.
The Lady Roadrunners rushed the ball up court and Webb launch a three, but it was well off the mark. But she rebounded the miss and tried an over-the-shoulder shot and was fouled with 1.0 on the clock.
Region XIV Women’s Basketball Tournament
No. 2 Tyler 84, No. 7 Angelina 83
ANGELINA — Nia Bradford, 2; Diamond Webb, 23; Brittany Jefferson, 10; Breann McMillion, 5; Carlesha Wyatt, 30; Shakia Walker, 2; Elizabeth Marrero, 2; Danielle McNealy, 0; Lexy Harris, 9; Carlette Wyatt, 0.
TYLER — Ericka House, 11; Markisha Hawkins, 26; Ashley Benjamin, 7; Cecilia Okoye, 22; Shawnee Johnson, 7; Amber Ames, 0; Carolina Lopez, 0; Keaira Arion, 4; Tayshia Hunt, 2; Kirbi Clark, 5.
THREE POINT GOALS — AC, 3-17 (Webb, 2-13; Jefferson, 0-2; Carlesha Wyatt, 1-2). TJC, 5-13 (House, 3-5; Hawkins, 1-4; Johnson, 1-1; Ames, 0-2; Arion, 0-1).
HALFTIME SCORE — AC 36-32.
FREE THROWS — AC 22-34; TJC 25-33.
REBOUNDS — AC 37 (Carlesha Wyatt, 0; Webb, 7); TJC 39 (Okoye, 9; Clark, 7).
TOTAL FOULS — AC 24, TJC 25.
ASSISTS — AC 16 (McMillion, 4; Webb, 3; Jefferson, 3); TJC 19 (Johnson, 6; Ames, 4).
TURNOVERS — AC 25, TJC 30.
BLOCKS — AC 1 (Jefferson), TJC 2 (Ames, Clark).
STEALS — AC 17 (McMillion, 6; Webb, 3); TJC 10 (Hawkins, 3; Okoye, 3).
RECORDS — Angelina 12-18, Tyler 24-7.
NEXT UP — Regional Semifinals: Tyler vs. Blinn, 3 p.m. Saturday, Wagstaff Gymnasium.