MUST-WIN TIME: TC women host Weatherford in tourney opener; struggling TC men play at champ Grayson
By GREG WILLE
The Temple College basketball teams finished the regular season in much different styles last Saturday afternoon against Weatherford at TC Gym.
On the women's side, the Starr Jacobs-led Lady Leopards of first-year head coach Amber Taylor staved off Weatherford for an 83-82 win that secured a share of third place with Ranger at 10-6 in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.
Later, the TC men couldn't match Weatherford's firepower as the Leopards of first-year head coach Clifton Ellis lost 102-88 to finish 1-13 for last place in the eight-team conference.
Although Temple's squads have drastically different kinds of momentum, both of them are in the same situation entering Wednesday: win quarterfinal games in the NTJCAC Tournament or their seasons will end.
The TC men (5-13) travel to Denison for a game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against conference champion and No. 19-ranked Grayson (18-2), whose Vikings went 12-2 in league play to capture the title by one game over Ranger. The TC-Grayson winner will play fourth-seeded Hill or fifth-seeded Collin in a semifinal Saturday.
Meanwhile, the TC women (14-6) earned a first-round home game and will host Weatherford (13-7) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the teams' second matchup at TC Gym in five days.
The Lady Leopards are the NTJCAC's No. 4 seed and Weatherford – which went 9-7 in the league – is seeded fifth. The Temple-Weatherford winner will advance to a Saturday semifinal against the winner between NTJCAC champion Hill (19-2) – ranked No. 24 in NJCAA Division I – and No. 8 seed Cisco.
It's a difficult first-round assignment for the Temple men, who went 0-2 against Grayson in conference play. The high-scoring Vikings prevailed 113-100 at TC on Feb. 24 and defeated the Leopards 117-99 in Denison last Wednesday.
TC was 1-1 in conference play after its 93-75 home win over Southwestern Christian on Feb. 10, but the Leopards lost their next 12 NTJCAC games, two of them by two-point margins. Temple allowed an average of 96.8 points per game during its 12-game conference skid.
Despite missing five games, TC 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Aleu Aleu – a Texas-San Antonio signee – leads the Leopards with 19.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Khouri Perkins averages 12.4 points per game, while freshman guard Brandon Monroe ranks second at 11.9 points and paces Temple with 42 3-point baskets made.
As for TC's women, Taylor's Lady Leopards needed to beat Weatherford last Saturday to earn a home game in the first round of the conference tournament, and Jacobs helped Temple – which had lost its previous two league games – do just that. The 6-2 sophomore forward produced a massive performance with 40 points, 18 rebounds and eight steals in the one-point victory that gave TC a split of the teams' season series.
Jacobs, who's played in 17 of Temple's 20 games, is averaging 24.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 1.8 blocked shots. Sophomore guard Jordyn Carter averages 12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and a team-high 4.1 steals for the Lady Leopards, who have gotten 8.3 rebounds per game from sophomore guard Kamani Jones and 7.1 assists per game from sophomore point guard Kennedi Green.