After leading the White Oak Roughnecks to two state basketball championships, Levi Yancy was ready to help his new team, the Tyler Junior College Apaches, capture a few titles.
After a snake-bit season a year ago, Yancy and his Apaches have done just that.
"Last season taught us a lot," the 6-9 forward said. "We learned how to fight through adversity. Last year, first Dale (Jones, 6-8 forward from Waterloo, Iowa) hurt his knee and missed the season. Then Dominique (Shaw, 6-4 guard from Lufkin) got hurt (ankle) and missed the first part of conference.
"We have been through a lot. Going through that together brought us closer. When it comes down to it, being a team is the most important part."
Yancy and his TJC teammates won the Region XIV Tournament championship last week with a 72-65 victory over San Jacinto College in Jacksonville. The victory earned the Apaches a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament this week in Hutchinson, Kansas.
"I feel like we are playing our best basketball now," said Yancy, who plays all five positions for the Apaches. "The coaching staff challenged us before the regional tournament to be the best team we could be and be the best when it was needed.
"When it comes down to win or go home, you have to play your best at the moment. The past three games we have shown we are the best team in the conference if not the nation."
Yancy, who has played in all 33 games for the Apaches and averages 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds, drew on his high school success as the postseason began for TJC.
"Having played in two state tournaments; that really set the stage for me at regionals and now nationals," said the 2013 Class 2A Player of the Year. "Playing under a great coach like coach (Ron) Boyette and winning two state titles under him set the stage for me. Coach Boyette and (TJC) coach (Mike) Marquis have been a blessing to me."
The Apaches (24-9) are the No. 17 seeds and play No. 16 seed Faulkner State of Bay Minette, Alabama, in the opening game at 10 a.m. Monday at Hutchinson Sports Area.
If TJC defeats Sun Chiefs (25-6), the Apaches will meet No. 1 Connors State of Oklahoma in the second round at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
"This feels amazing getting to go to nationals," Yancy said. "Once you see the work you have put in and the result of it; it is an indescribable feeling."
After TJC, Yancy, who is majoring in math and would like to be a teacher, will attend Northwestern State University of the Southland Conference. He signed a basketball letter of intent in the fall.
"It has been a blessing playing for coach Marquis and attending TJC," Yancy said. "It is the best junior college in the nation and, plus, it was just around the corner from White Oak."