Back about the conference schedule midpoint, when Kilgore College and Trinity Valley each had to forfeit two games due to an on-court fight, the chances of the Lady Rangers getting into the tournament at all were dimming.
But not even an eventual loss to Trinity Valley in the Region XIV Conference women’s tournament championship game last weekend can dim what turned into the best season KC women’s basketball has had in some time.
Kilgore College knocked off both Panola and San Jacinto en route to the program’s first conference title game appearance since 2009, but couldn’t pull the upset of the more-powerful Trinity Valley Lady Cardinals. Trinity Valley dealt coach Anna Nimz’s team a 61-39 defeat on Saturday evening.
No one was celebrating, but it definitely feels like the start of something.
KC finished with a 21-11 overall record – its best since that 2009 team coached by Roy Thomas won 23 games, and lost just seven – and earned tons of respect. Panola and San Jac had each swept KC on the season, and most didn’t give the Lady Rangers a chance to even get out of their first-round game.
Still, they did, and with Nimz having just finished her second year, there are some comparisons to the work that Evelyn Blalock did in building the program in the late 1980s-early 1990s. KC has wandered in the wilderness for much of the time since Blalock’s retirement, with a few good years sprinkled over a lot of mediocrity.
But Nimz got the Lady Rangers back to the tourney a year ago, and this year, they were just one win away from winning a conference title – and returning to the national tourney stage that used to be a regular stop every year.
Trinity Valley clamped down KC’s normally-strong offense in the title game. Danielle Meador’s 11 points led KC. Da’Jah Thompson, Lyrik Williams, and Richelle Velez each scored eight, and then Courtney Parramore added three.
Williams and Meador each had five rebounds; Meador added three assists and three steals, and Williams had two assists and blocked two shots. Mariana Witt also blocked two shots.
KC’s shooting wasn’t good: they hit just 15-of-56 shots from the floor, and only 3-of-10 from the free throw line.
Still, the long run at the end of the season has fans hearkening back to the days Blalock’s Lady Rangers dominated the conference – and wondering if an encore performance might be on the horizon.