Collin College's men's and women's basketball teams are focusing on improving and staying healthy as they enter tough conference play. Conference games kick off for Collin on Jan. 4 at Ranger College.
Men's Coach Jim Sigona said he feels like his team could be undefeated if not for three or four possessions at the end of close games. His team is 11-3 in pre-conference play.
"Going in, we have been in every game," he said. "I have seen improvements the whole way and we can continue that through conference."
Sigona said he likes the way that his team is finding a way to win without running the ball through one player.
"Last year everything was based on Taz (Tazjmel Sherman)," he said. "This year we have a lot more balance. One night it could be Mason (Hix). Another it could be Nighael (Ceaser). Or it could be Myles (Fitzgerald-Warren) or Josh (Miller).
"I think the big thing for us is to get everybody playing well. We just need to have great balance."
Having multiple options will be vital going in a conference and regional environment that Sigona described as "the toughest it's ever been." The conference is topped by Temple College, which stands at 14-0, followed by Ranger College at 15-1 and which was recently ranked first in the nation prior to a shocker loss to Howard College. Looking regionally, Clarendon College and New Mexico Junior College are also in the national top 25.
Coach Jeff Allen's women's team will also play some stiff competition. The conference opener against nationally-ranked Ranger (14-0) leads off a parade of improved teams, including Grayson College which is also ranked nationally. Allen said Weatherford College will be good again and Hill College, which won conference last year will have a lot of their players back.
"This is probably the deepest the conference has been in 10 years," Allen said.
Despite the tough competition ahead, Allen likes how his team is coming together.
"Our talent level is there," he said. "We have a good group of kids that are playing hard, so it is going to be a battle every night, but I like where we are at."
The toughest part of the season so far has been dealing with injuries that have hobbled the team and kept the roster a bit thin. Allen noted that the Lady Cougars have not had a full 10 players for more than a month, and the team will likely compete with an eight-player active roster for the remainder of the season.
"It has been an up and down year so far," Allen said. "We have battled the hardest trying to stay healthy, and we had a tough non-conference schedule, but our girls are competing."
Josh Miller led Collin's men with 21 points in their 122-59 New Year's Eve win over Texas Wesleyan University. The Cougars shot 44.6 percent from the field and scored at will in the game. Orion Virden put up 18 points, followed by Mason Hix with 14, Noah Whitworth with 12, and Nighael Ceaser with 10.
The Lady Cougars lost to Blinn College 72-64 in their first game of 2021. No box score was available at the time this story was filed.