The move up in classification was supposed to be a hindrance, especially since Texoma Christian was only a student or two from staying in Class 2A instead of being one of the smallest TAPPS programs in 3A.
And that was following a year when the Lady Eagles finished with a losing record despite winning their first playoff contest and losing to eventual champ Southcrest in a region final.
The early-season returns didn’t show things were going to get any easier. There were more losses than wins when district play started. But Texoma Christian started winning and hasn’t stopped since.
“We thought we had some big things coming. But we moved up this year and you never know what to expect,” Texoma Christian head coach Mark Ellison said. “They have been overachieving in my eyes. Every game they keep getting better.”
Fueled by a huge second quarter run, the Lady Eagles cruised to a 73-31 victory over Amarillo San Jacinto in a region semifinal at TCS on Saturday.
Texoma Christian (18-7) will face either Dallas Lutheran or Fort Worth Lake Country Christian in the region final later this week.
Tinsley Love scored 21 points, T’anne Boyd added 20 points, Cana Miller chipped in 15 points and Brooke Griffin totaled seven points for the Lady Eagles, who have won 14 straight games and are one more victory from returning to the state tournament for the first time in four seasons and 12th time overall.
Audrey Lane scored 18 points for Amarillo San Jacinto (5-16), which got only five other baskets from the rest of its roster. The Lady Patriots were held to seven or fewer points in each of the final three quarters.
“Our defense, that right now is where we’re playing our best,” Ellison said.
All of the scoring by Love, Boyd and Miller came in the first three quarters as they sat the final eight minutes after helping the Lady Eagles build a 65-25 advantage going to the fourth.
Griffin did all of her scoring in the last quarter, accounting for all but one of TCS’ offense in the frame. The final margin of 42 points was the biggest of the contest.
Texoma Christian quickly went ahead by 30 points in the third quarter as part of a 9-2 burst to open the second half. Emily Wagnitz and Love hit back-to-back threes before Michelle Wester banked in a three-pointer to end San Jacinto’s drought with 3:33 left in the quarter.
A 9-0 run from TCS, highlighted by Love’s fifth and final three-pointer, ended the frame.
The Lady Eagles broke the game open with their play at both ends of the floor in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
Texoma Christian opened the frame on an 18-0 run that turned a six-point margin into a 35-11 lead.
Love had a pair of three-pointers and Boyd hit three shots, the last as part of a three-point play. Miller notched the final three points of the sequence.
Avery Welch finally put San Jacinto on the board with 3:35 left before the half. The Lady Patriots made just one other shot in the quarter — a layup by Lane — to go with three free throws.
Miller, who scored 10 points in the quarter, had three straight layups in the latter stages to help the Lady Eagles go to the locker room with a 46-18 advantage.
Boyd had 16 points in the first half and both Love and Miller weren’t far behind with 13 points apiece.
Lane led San Jacinto with nine points at the break.
San Jacinto raced out to a 7-0 lead with five points from Lane before Texoma Christian finally got going.
“We only had two girls who had played in the playoffs before,” Ellison said. “A bunch of them had the jitters. They settled down.”
The Lady Eagles responded with a 10-0 run of their own. Boyd had six points during the surge as TCS took the lead for good.
San Jacinto trimmed its deficit to a point before the Lady Eagles pushed their lead back up to 17-11 at the end of the quarter. San Jacinto made just two shots in the final three-plus minutes of the quarter.