Tyler Lee girls basketball opens season Tuesday at North Forney

 

Tyler Lee achieved its first playoff win in girls basketball since 2005 last season, so that goal has been met.

The Lady Raiders have their eyes set this season on a district championship and a long postseason run. That journey begins Tuesday on the road at North Forney High School.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Lee returns four starters from last season's lineup that defeated Conroe Oak Ridge in the 6A bi-district round.

Head coach Ross Barber is in his second year and said his team's work-rate in the offseason impressed him.

"They just keep responding and it has been a blast to watch them work out every day," said Barber, who led Robert E. Lee to an 18-16 mark and area-round appearance last season.

"There is some big time leadership that is stepping up. If we continue to work hard and do everything we can on and off the court, we will have a successful season."

Bowie said Lee's future endeavors begin first with returning starters Ja'Kayla Bowie (Sr.), Aaliyah Morgan (Soph.), Alyssia Thorne (Soph.) and Tyreesha Blaylock (Sr.).

Morgan was Newcomer of the Year for the Tyler Morning Telegraph and ETFinalScore.com's All-East Texas Girls Basketball team a year ago. Joining her was Bowie, who was named to the All-ET first team. Blaylock also received All-ET honorable mention recognition.

Both Thorne and sophomore Hannah Haynes began asserting themselves more for Lee nearly the end of last season and in the playoffs.

Bowie averaged 12.2 points per game last season to go with three assists and two steals per game. She has committed to play basketball at Texas State University.

Morgan (11 points, 3 rebounds per game) has already received offers from Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian, while Barber said Blaylock (6 points, 2 steals, 2 assists per game) is talking with UT Tyler and Mary Hardin-Baylor. Thorne (6 points and 6 rebounds per game) and Haynes (23 3-pointers) emerged last year as freshmen and Barber is excited about what the future holds for them in Year 2.

Lee finished third in District 11-6A last season behind Mesquite Horn and Rockwall. Barber said the team has aspirations this season of not just qualifying for the postseason, but going into the playoffs as district champs.

Barber said his bench play will be critical this season as well, starting with senior Mircale Daniel and junior A'sharia Williams.

"Miracle Daniel is going to come off the bench for us and she plays her tail off every time she is on the floor," Barber continued. "Halee Jackson is another really good outside shooter; Williams will have to be a role player for us as far as setting good screens, getting rebounds and doing the dirty work, which is kind of her m.o.

"Ibeto will have to step up for us too because she's going to be coming in to play the point some. She will have to be reliable with her decisions and play lock down defense."

The Lady Raiders go to the Baytown Tournament this week with Barber looking forward to the competition his team could face from the likes of DeSoto, Fort Worth Trimble Tech and Oak Ridge.

Lee opens the event Thursday against Houston Clear Brook.

The Lady Raiders will also compete in the Curtis Caldwell Tournament at Garland ISD with other non-district matchups against Lufkin, Ennis and Hallsville.

2017-18 Lady Raiders: Tyreesha Blaylock (Sr.), Ja'Kayla Bowie (Sr.), Miracle Daniel (Sr.), A'sharia Williams (Jr.), Aaliyah Morgan (Soph.), Alyssia Thorne (Soph.), Hannah Haynes (Soph.), Halee Jackson (Soph.), Ja'neice Ibeto (Soph.).

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