ATHENS — Mac Davis once sang “I thought happiness was Lubbock Texas in my rear view mirror.”
For Region XIV women’s basketball coaches, they would sing a different lyric, something along the lines of “Happiness is Lubbock Texas.”
The NJCAA Women’s National Tournament is held each year in the Hub City on the South Plains.
So, the coaches eye Lubbock much like Dorothy looked upon the Emerald City.
Eight of the 10 coaches attended the 23rd Region XIV Conference Media Tipoff on Wednesday in the Pauline Knight Perkins Performing Arts Center on the campus of Trinity Valley Community College. The two coaches who were not in Athens — Blinn College’s Jeff Jenkins and Coastal Bend College’s Nathan Purswell — participated via Zoom.
Coaches on hand were veterans Tyler Junior College’s Trenia Tillis Hoard, Trinity Valley Community College’s Precious Ivy, Kilgore College’s Addie Lees, Angelina College’s Byron Coleman and Panola College’s Alex Furr, along with new head coaches — Jacksonville College’s Terry Gray, Bossier Parish Community College’s Stephanie Williams and Paris Junior College’s Brittany Christian.
The highlight of the day was the release of the preseason poll. Trinity Valley, with eight first-place votes and 96 points, is picked first, followed by TJC with two first-place votes and 89 points.
Ivy led the Lady Cardinals to runner-up in the nation last year while Tillis Hoard coached her team to the Elite Eight.
Both are favored to be in Lubbock again with the Apache Ladies returning players who contributed 62 points a game, plus adding transfers Nassarine William (6-2 forward, Paris, France) from Quinnipiac, Trinittee Alexander (5-10 guard, Everman) from Arkansas-Little Rock and Shadiya Thomas (5-8 guard, Cypress) from the Air Force Academy.
Returners for TJC include rebounding machine Deborah Ogayemi (5-11, forward, Waterford, Ireland), lighting quick guard Nadechka Laccen (5-6, San Juan, Puerto Rico), triple-double threat Veonce Powell (5-6, guard, Miami, Florida), silky smooth shooter Taryn Wills (5-9, guard, Round Rock), along with Kiah Garrett (5-8, guard, Melissa), Tia Morgan (5-6, guard, Chicago), Brianna Garrett (5-5, guard, Houston), Jasmine Payne (6-0, forward, Montgomery, Alabama) and Daijah Torns (6-1, forward, Austin).
Apache Lady freshmen include Emari Sidney (5-11, forward, Houston, Cypress Springs High School) and Destinee Moore (6-4, center, Shreveport, Louisiana, Northwood HS).
Following TVCC and TJC in the poll include: 3, Panola, 78; 4, Blinn, 71; 5, Angelina, 60; 6, Kilgore, 52; 7, Paris, 40; 8, Bossier Parish, 28; 9, Coastal Bend, 19; and 10, Jacksonville, 17.
Last season, TJC did not allow fans to attend games, missing one of the most entertaining teams in the land.
“The fans missed seeing a fun group, who had high energy,” Tillis Hoard said. “They were like little rabbits out there, no fear and always working hard. Working hard got us to the Elite Eight.”
Tillis Hoard, who is beginning her 21st year as head coach of the Apache Ladies, said “Trinity Valley is Trinity Valley”; “Panola has a slew of transfers and Alex does such a good job”; “Byron always wants to be the spoiler. He got a taste of that national tournament (2019) and he is hungry for more, and he lost 50 pounds so you know he is really hungry for it again”; “Addie brings that intensity against us and Trinity Valley and every game” and “the new coaches may be new to the conference, but they know all about Region XIV — Mighty Region XIV.”
The Apache Ladies open the regular season in the McLennan Classic in Waco, taking on Southwestern Christian (2 p.m., Nov. 5) and McLennan (6 p.m., Nov. 6).
TJC will host the Herb Richardson Classic on Nov. 12 (7 p.m. vs. Hill) and Nov. 13 (2 p.m. vs. Collin).
Also, Tillis Hoard enters the season with a head coaching record of 479-200, just 21 wins away from the magic 500.
NOTES: The event returned after last year’s gathering was canceled due to COVID-19. Trinity Valley Community College sponsored the 2021 Tipoff. ... Committee members include: Benny Rogers of TVCC and Brandon Ogden and Phil Hicks of the Tyler Morning Telegraph/TylerPaper.com.