Down a point with three seconds to go, the Lady Cougars inbound the ball. Destiny Thurman takes it just past half court and lobs it with a fraction of a second before the buzzer. Backboard. Bucket. The Lady Cougars' bench goes wild. Collin College wins 70-68!!! (See it here)
It was a thrilling end to the Lady Cougars' conference play, cementing a 12-3 conference record and a second-place finish going into the post-season. Thurman led the team with 23 points, followed by Jordynn Hernandez with 17 and Shala Robinson with 12.
Collin's men finished their conference schedule with a 77-67 win against Weatherford the same night. Mason Hix led the team with 16 points followed by Nighel Ceaser with 13, Ryan Flores with 11, and Tajzmel Sherman and Ikem Okeke-Oraeki with 10 each. The Cougars went 10-4 in conference and also finished second.
Next up: the National Junior College Athletic Conference Region V Tournament, March 6-9 at Abilene Christian University.
Women's Coach Jeff Allen and Men's Coach Jim Sigona both said their teams are ready for the post-season, but know there are tough games ahead. The Lady Cougars will face stiff competition from the Western Junior College Athletic Conference winners, all of whom are ranked in the Top 25 nationally. That includes No. 3 South Plains College, which has lost only two games this season. The Lady Cougars will open the tournament against Midland College, which is ranked 24thin the nation.
"This might be the toughest regional tournament I have ever seen," Allen said. "We are going to have to play at the highest level."
On the men's side, the Cougars have similarly tough competition. The North Texas Junior College Athletic Association Champion Ranger College ranks fourth in the nation and the Cougars could also face off against Odessa College (7) or South Plains College (9) from the WJCAC.
"We knew the season would competitive this year with four conference teams in the national rankings," Sigona said. "Our players are looking forward to the regional and hopefully we can play our best basketball going in."
Sigona said his team knows their roles on offense and defense. Its success hinges on execution on both sides of the court.
"We need to limit turnovers and get some balanced scoring," he said. "We have different players who can impact games each night."
For Allen's team, the focus will be on defense. Although the team has improved throughout the season, he said there are still some things the players need to do better.
"We have been able to score in a bunch of different ways," he said, "but I think the biggest strength of this team is their team chemistry and really playing for each other."
Watch the Region V Tournament online with the Texas Sports Network (www.tsrnsports.com) beginning with the Lady Cougars game against Midland College, Wednesday, March 6 at 3 p.m. The Cougars will kick off their post-season against Howard College, Thursday, March 7 at 3 p.m.
Collin's men beat Grayson College, 64-63 at home, Feb. 18. Sherman, who would provide the last bucket of the night, led the Cougars with 20 points. He was followed by River Reed (10), then Hix and Okeke-Oraeki (10 each).
The men's team dominated Tomball College, 93-52, in its last game of the regular season, Feb. 27. Sherman led with 20 points, followed by River Reed with 16 and Hix with 13. Seven players recorded steals in the game.
Hernandez led the Lady Cougars in scoring in their 89-84 win over Grayson College, putting up 23 points, six rebounds and three assists. She was followed by Shala Robinson (15) and Christina Baker (12).
The women's team also closed out its regular season with a non-conference game, defeating Cisco College 75-59 on the road. Thurman led the team with 25 points and three steals, followed by Briana Marshall with 14 points. The team's overall regular season record is 23-6.