by DOMINICK PUENTE//Staff Writer
After finishing the 2015-2016 season with a Regional V playoff appearance, the Lady Texans are looking forward to being a force in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
Cayla Petree, entering her second season as head coach of the Lady Texans, is hoping to recreate another winning season.
The Lady Texans finished the 2015-2016 season with a 20-10 record overall, finishing conference play in a tie for third place and advancing to the NJCAA Regional V Tournament.
“With some of the success we had this past year, as a team we are looking to build off the accomplishments we made and continue to get better each game,” explained Coach Petree.
The Lady Texans have a history of outstanding women’s teams and developed a winning culture, and Coach Petree is motivated to continue the tradition.
“I have always said this is one of the best junior college jobs in the country,”Coach Petree said. Our athletic programs win national championships, and that is what we are looking to accomplish.”
The Lady Texans understand goals cannot be met without putting in the hard work every day and giving the effort.
“We work towards our goals every day, and it is not always easy,” explained Coach Petree. “It takes a lot of work and dedication, but, as a team, we always stay focused on achieving our goals.”
Coach Petree said she is looking forward to her returning players producing points and having a positive impact on the team.
Sophomore 5’8 guard Elizabeth Cera will be making her return after being the leader scorer for the Lady Texans. The Levelland Native took the role as the deep threat beyond the arch, averaging 15 points a game and breaking a school record with 12 three-pointers in a game.
Cera will look to lead the offensive charge at the guard position. Additional shooting help could come from Yanina Inkina. Inkina is a 6’2 sophomore from Belarus Russia.
“Yanina Inkina has greatly improved from the past year,” explained Coach Petree. “She has developed a great outside game to give us more ways to utilize her in the game.”
The returning sophomore from Belarus will assume the role as a dual threat instead of a one-dimensional player inside. However, the 6’ 2 forward will be of great help with inside play.
Coach Petree says that returning 5’5 sophomore guard, Dabrasia Baty will be another important role player for the Lady Texans this season. The Dallas Native is the only First Team All-Conference player returning from last season.
“She will provide a good amount of depth for us at the point-guard position throughout the season,” Coach Petree said of Baty.
Returners for the Lady Texans are 5’6 sophomore guard Felicia Jackson from Gainsville, Florida, 5’8 sophomore guard Joneva Huey from Lamesa, Texas, 6’1 sophomore guard Jasauen Beard from Midwest City, Oklahoma, 5’8 sophomore forward Taylor Holley from The Colony, Texas and 5’6 sophomore guard Brittany Smith from Houston, Texas
A lack of size and injuries plagued the Lady Texans throughout the 2015 season, and Coach Petree said she feels that she has recruited the necessary players to give her team more than just a fighting chance.
Petree explained, “Injuries and a lack of size were the main concerns we had last season. But after recruiting this summer, I feel that we filled the necessary spots that we were lacking last year.”
As for the size factor, Coach Petree brought in more size to have a more affective and solid inside game.
“Everyone that we recruited will provide a tremendous amount of depth on the inside,” said Coach Petree, “and they will be able to have a chance to go in the game and earn their minutes.”
Incoming Lady Texans freshman are 5’10 guard, Nia Mims from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 6’4 forward, Mariam Gnanou from the Ivory Coast, 5’4 forward, Chanise Nycole Ray from Alexandria Virginia, 6’2 forward, Daria Vatrushkina from Moscow Russia, 6’1 forward/guard, Lidia Guiral-Lafita from Fraga, Spain and 6’4 forward, Stella Logbognon from the Ivory Coast.
With the new editions to the team, Petree her team will be well prepared when Western Junior College Athlete Conference play begins. She feels that the overall conference will be a challenge, and no game will be a walk-through.
“I am really impressed with New Mexico Junior College, Coach Petree said of the conference foes, “We met them at the scrimmages in Frisco, and they are loaded at every position, and their coaching staff is always great every year. Odessa and Midland are a few other tough opponents that compete very well. But overall, this entire conference has gained a lot of respect for their hard-working programs.”
With the regular season about to begin, Coach Petree emphasized the main points of the game she is hoping her team will excel at.
“Continuous effort throughout a game, along with using defense to control our offense, is what we want to achieve,” Coach Petree said, “We also want to be the aggressor at both ends of the floor and limit turnovers,” said Petree.
Coach Petree knows that accomplishing those tasks are easier said than done. But in order to reach their goal of a national championship, it must be done.