Now with the regular season officially over, the men’s basketball team has made their way into the postseason after scratching through one of the toughest conferences in American Junior College basketball.
“As I’ve always said before, this is America’s best conference,” said Head Basketball Coach Mike Marquis.
While playoffs are inching closer, the No. 15 ranked Apaches have their eyes on the prize and their focus has become unshakable.
“The focus moving forward is winning our conference,” said Sophomore Forward Eden Ewing. “Not really worried about what happened in the past, we’re moving forward, we’re trying to keep it moving forward and just trying to reach our goal.”
Ewing scored just two buckets against their loss to Panola College Wednesday, Feb. 22, but in dramatic fashion. With halftime just moments away, Ewing was able to break free after TJC swiped the ball, leaving himself all alone for a slam dunk with just a few seconds left on the clock.
As for the rest of the night, it was one the team would like to forget. Ewing, with only three points and two of the team’s 17 turnovers, believed looking ahead to the task before them is what the focus is for his team. Following a nail-biting loss against Panola, TJC traveled to Corsicana on Saturday, Feb. 25 to face Navarro College and looked to minimize the mistakes made in the previous bout.
“We just got to be smarter with the ball, take our time, be patient. Like he said, move the ball more,” said Ewing
As for Sophomore Guard Kwinton Hinson from Fairmount, North Carolina, he looked to continue his momentum into the next game following his double-double performance against Panola. Hinson led his team in points with 25, 12 of which came from behind the arc, and in rebounds with 10.
“Just feeding off my teammates, playing with whatever they give me,” said Hinson.
And he was able to do just that, Hinson and his team went into a hostile Navarro crowd and came out the victor. Although TJC did get the job done, it was no easy task. This game ended up being a roller coaster of emotion with the momentum switching from one team to the other throughout the entire match up. And if two halves of play weren’t enough for those in attendance, the Apaches took it into overtime; three overtime quarters for that matter.
After both teams had enough, TJC was able to hold on in the last overtime with a huge 86-84 win over Navarro College.
TJC came back home for the last game of the regular season against long-time rival, Trinity Valley Community College. TVCC has always been a thorn in the side of TJC and has been at the top of the region for a long time now along with San Jacinto-Central.
But this time around, the Apaches focus on winning their conference, which may require beating the battle-tested Trinity Valley basketball team.
“Beatin’em,” said Ewing on what the focus would be against TVCC.
“Yeah, beatin’em,” said Hinson. “We’re very confident, so yeah we know we can beat them.”
Pulling off an upset against TVCC not only would mean finally putting an end to the Cardinals dominance over Tyler but would also give the Apaches the Region 14 North Conference Title. Which has been the focus for this team ever since being ranked fifth in their conference in their preseason polls.
Now with the regular season officially over, the Apaches look to start their playoff run starting with the District C Tournament which will be hosted by the winner of the Region 14 conference. The winner may could come down to the Apaches or the Cardinals.