Tyler Lee went 25-11 a season ago and took Class 6A state semifinalist Allen down to the wire in the area round.
With a bulk of that roster returning, Lady Raider head coach Ross Barber wanted to challenge his team early in 2019-20.
The Lady Raiders have had scrimmages against Class 6A No. 3 Allen, Class 6A No. 5 Garland Sachse, Class 6A No. 6 Irving MacArthur, Class 4A No. 3 Dallas Lincoln and Class 4A No. 1 Argyle twice.
“We saw a lot of growth in the scrimmages,” Barber said. “In our first scrimmage, we were kind of out of sync, which is expected, but we got better. In our second scrimmages, we tied Argyle, then beat Sachse and then beat Argyle. We showed a lot of improvement, and that’s what you want to see from your kids.”
In non-district play, the Lady Raiders will play in loaded tournament fields in Allen and Royse City.
In the Allen Tournament on Nov. 21-23, Lee is in a pool with Class 6A No. 12 Duncanville, Garland Lakeview Centennial and Class 5A No. 2 Frisco Liberty. After that, Lee could match up with Class 5A No. 5 Mansfield Timberview, Class 6A No. 20 Waco Midway, TAPPS 6A No. 5 Plano Prestonwood or Irving MacArthur.
“There are no easy pools in that tournament, which is what you need early on,” Barber said.
TCU commit Aaliyah Morgan is back for her senior season after averaging 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Alyssia Thorne averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals a game last season, and senior Hannah Haynes also returns.
“What’s really helped us have a great preseason is the leadership of our seniors,” Barber said. “Those three have been on varsity since their freshmen year, and they’ve stepped into that leadership role really well.”
Sophomore Aaliyah Campbell is back after a standout freshman campaign that saw her average 11 points, four rebounds and four steals per game.
Sophomore Taliyah Mumphrey and freshman I’Onna Jones recently joined the Lady Raiders from volleyball.
Two new additions to the team are freshmen twins Ella Rook and Rose Rook.
Other Lady Raiders are sophomore Vanessa Hayward, junior Micaelah Igaya and senior Ja’Neice Ibeto.
“I think we’re a team that could be very efficient on offense,” Barber said. “Defensively, I think we will be able to mix it up a lot more. Coach (Emily) Breedlove does a fantastic job with our defense, and that’s the thing we’ve really hung our hat on the last couple of years.”
Lee held opponents to 37 points per game in 2018-19.
The Lady Raiders will begin the 2019-20 season against Nacogdoches at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at REL Varsity Gymnasium. They will take on crosstown rival John Tyler at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gymnasium. Lee will open District 11-6A play Dec. 16 at Rockwall-Heath and will host Class 5A No. 17 Wylie East in non-district action on Dec. 31.