- Greg Wille
CRANK IT UP: After blowout wins in early tuneups, TC basketball squads start NTJCAC action at Ranger
TIME FOR CONFERENCE: Sophomore guard Khouri Perkins and the 3-0 Temple College Leopards of first-year head coach Clifton Ellis begin their 14-game Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference schedule on Saturday with a 4 p.m. road game against Ranger. Perkins averages a team-leading 22 points per game and is 10-for-15 from 3-point range along with eight rebounds and three steals per contest. TC's first NTJCAC home game is against Southwestern Christian at 7 p.m. next Wednesday. The Temple women (4-0) of first-year coach Amber Taylor begin conference play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Ranger. (File photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
Temple College's basketball teams are off to perfect starts with their first-year head coaches.
The TC men of coach Clifton Ellis are 3-0, scoring 137 points per game and winning by an average margin of 46.7 points.
The women are 4-0 with coach Amber Taylor, scoring 93 points per game and winning by 40.5 points on average.
Of course, all of those victories have come against overmatched opponents in non-conference contests. The Leopards and the Lady Leopards now move into the meat of their schedules as they begin Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference competition Saturday at Ranger.
The Temple men will open league play against Ranger (1-2 overall, 0-1 NTJCAC) at 4 p.m., preceded by the women's game between TC and Ranger (0-4, 0-1) at 2.
Because of COVID-19 cases and related quarantines and protocols, the TC men missed their first three scheduled games and didn't get to begin the season until last Saturday, when they clobbered the Our Lady of the Lake University junior varsity 139-86 at TC Gym. That was one day after Ellis received medical clearance to return to the team after a positive COVID-19 test kept him at home for two weeks.
The Leopards' stretch of three games in five days included Monday's 132-85 home win against Pro Vision and Wednesday's 140-100 romp over the Our Lady of the Lake JV in San Antonio.
Although Temple was without three players in its season opener, two of those three returned for the second game and all 13 Leopards played on Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Khouri Perkins is TC's leading scorer at 22 points per game, including 10-for-15 shooting from 3-point range. He's also averaging eight rebounds and three steals. Freshman reserve guard Sherrod Whitley (17 points per game) has gotten off to a torrid start, making 13 of 20 attempts (65 percent) from 3-point territory.
Elijah Lomas averages 18.3 points, and fellow freshman guard Brandon Monroe scored 18 points in his season debut Wednesday. Sophomore 6-foot-8 forward Aleu Aleu, a Texas-San Antonio signee, averages 17.7 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore point guard Tyler Watkins has averaged 12 points and six assists in two starts after missing the season opener.
Freshman guards Kristopher O'Neal and Davion Sargent-Young also have provided stellar play. O'Neal averages 9.7 points, seven assists and 4.3 steals, while Sargent-Young averages 8.7 points, four assists and 2.3 steals. Also, Maison Adeleye averages 12 points and 3.7 steals, fellow freshman forward Tawab Kokumo has grabbed seven rebounds per game and 6-10 Canadian sophomore forward Mawien Mawien averages 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots.
Temple opens its 14-game conference slate against a Ranger squad that lost its NTJCAC opener 102-85 at Grayson on Wednesday. Ellis – a standout point guard for TC in the mid-1990s – and the Leopards will play their first conference home game at 7 p.m. next Wednesday against Southwestern Christian (1-1, 0-1) at TC Gym, followed by a home duel against preseason conference favorite Hill at 4 p.m. Saturday.
On the women's side, Temple has compiled four runaway wins – two each against Texas Christian College and Coastal Bend – for new coach Taylor, who was hired last May after coaching NTJCAC opponent Cisco the previous three seasons. The Lady Leopards have scored at least 87 points in every game and haven't allowed more than 59 in any game.
The final 16 games on Temple's schedule are conference contests, beginning on the road against a winless Ranger team that dropped its league opener 73-51 at Grayson on Wednesday. The Lady Leopards' first home conference game is against Southwestern Christian at 5 p.m. next Wednesday, then TC will host Hill at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomore forward Starr Jacobs and sophomore guard Jordyn Carter, two of TC's best players in 2019-20 in coach Kim Sebek's 22nd and final season, missed the first three games this season and made their debuts in Monday's 101-52 home thrashing of Texas Christian College. The 6-2 Jacobs scored 27 points and made three steals, while the 5-8 Carter produced 20 points, five steals and three assists.
The only Lady Leopard to start all four games is 5-6 sophomore point guard Kennedi Green, who's averaging 7.8 points, 9.5 assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Four other TC players average more than 10 points per game: freshman guard Kirsten Zaruba (17.0), sophomore guard Kamani Jones (14.5), sophomore forward Jordan Walker (12.8) and sophomore guard Taylor Pouangaphayvong (10.5).
Jones leads the Lady Leopards with nine rebounds per game, followed by Walker (8.0) – who also grabs 3.8 steals per game – and Pouangaphayvong (7.3).
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