Pair of TCS standouts make hoops choices
A pair of Texoma Christian basketball standouts helped their teams to strong seasons and now will look to continue that success at the next level.
Jenna Fortenberry is headed to the University of the Ozarks while Charlie Zeis decided on Oklahoma Wesleyan.
Fortenberry picked the Division III program over East Texas Baptist, Wheaton College in Massachusetts and Webster University in Missouri.
"I prayed and prayed God would show me the right school. It was obvious it was the right school for me," Fortenberry said. "A lot of my recruiting got delayed and coaches couldn't talk to me. It was difficult but we made it work."
After coming back to Texoma Christian following two years at Lone Oak, Fortenberry was the TAPPS District 2-3A Most Valuable Player and a first-team all-state selection as the Lady Eagles captured the district title and finished 23-10 with an area round loss against region runner-up Round Rock Christian.
Fortenberry averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
She was also an all-district selection in volleyball and the starting catcher for the softball team, which played only a couple of games when the season was cancelled in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
University of the Ozarks went 6-19 this past season and 1-15 in the American Southwest Conference. It was a step back from the 2018-19 campaign that ended with a 13-13 overall record and a 9-7 conference mark. It was the program’s first appearance in the ASC Tournament in four years, its first winning conference record since 2010-11 and best conference finish since 2002-03.
"If feels great," Fortenberry said. "Basketball's been my passion since I was four."
Zeis chose the NAIA program over Central Baptist College in Arkansas.
"They care about the players. I got to go up there at the start of the coronavirus and meet with them," Zeis said. "It's pretty laid back, a good fit."
Zeis, who was the lone senior for the Eagles, helped Texoma Christian to a runner-up finish in TAPPS District 2-3A behind eventual state champion Dallas Yavneh. The Eagles were 19-14 — 10-2 in district play — and came up just short of reaching the state tournament for the second time in three seasons and seventh overall with a loss against Midland Classical in region final.
Midland Classical lost against Yavneh in the state semifinals.
He earned first-team all-district accolades.
"It was a weird transition because I had usually relied on others and then was the one with the most knowledge," Zeis said. "Once we locked in and were focused we had good chemistry and good success."
Oklahoma Wesleyan was 26-8 and won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title with a 74-68 victory against Ottawa. The Eagles were the No. 4 seed in the NAIA Tournament and beat defending champion Spring Arbor, 70-68, to reach the Sweet 16 when the season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was the program’s eighth appearance in the national tournament, which they won in 2009 as part of a 39-game winning streak.
The Eagles were the No. 2 overall seed for the 2019 National Tournament and spent time as the top-ranked team in the nation and were the KCAC regular season champs and finished 30-4 with an opening round loss in the NAIA tourney after also being the 2018 KCAC Champions and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NAIA National Tournament.
"It's pretty crazy because they're a championship school and they want me to come and develop into a championship-type player," Zeis said. "It's pretty flattering."