By Tony Adams, for Temple College
The 2023-2024 Temple College women’s basketball team hosts its first home game of the season at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday versus Dallas College Richland.
This year’s Leopards squad features a mix of excellent outside shooters, solid inside paint presence and smart defensive play.
“I feel like we’re seasoned,” said head coach Amber Taylor. “I have nine sophomores – six returning and three transfers – and five freshmen.”
Watch the game live with play-by-play announcer Tony Adams on Playsight.
Returning sophomores include Kira Bass (14.8 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, 70.2% FT), Erika Suarez (11.6 ppg), Camille Pritchard (8.1 ppg, 5.5 rebounds per game), Evelyn Lorenzo (7.8 ppg, 4.1 assists per game, 80.2% FT), Tia Mitchell (6.0 ppg, 66.7% FT), and Kyiah Hicks (3.5 ppg).
Sophomore transfers include Temple High School graduate Wilashia Burleson, who is transferring from Ranger College; Peyton Overton (Paris Junior College) and Marta Sanchez (King University).
Temple College’s non-conference schedule features rugged matchups, including a pair of games at the Hill College Classic against Dallas College Cedar Valley and SAGU on Nov. 3 and 4. A pair of tussles at the Herb Richardson Classic in Tyler have the Leopards paired off against Angelina College and Kilgore College on Nov. 10 and 11.
Taylor’s offensive and defensive philosophies change from year to year, she said, mainly because of the two-year cycles of junior college players.
“We’re playing a little faster this year than what we did last year. Having so many sophomores, they understand what we are doing. We are pressing up more this year, which we couldn’t do last year because I wasn’t as deep,” Taylor said. “So, we are pressing up and defending the ball full-court. We are playing very fast on offense. It’s great to have shooters. I have some really good shooting guards, but also have post players who can score, you know, when you’re bringing back power.”
One of TC’s standouts from a year ago, former Killeen-Ellison player Kira Bass, is back for her sophomore season.
“Kira Bass, who led our team in scoring last year as a freshman, led us in rebounding and she was the conference defensive player of the year last year,” Taylor said. “She led the conference in blocks last year, led the conference in rebounds last year, so we can bring that back. Obviously, we’re expecting big things from her.”
Solid non-conference games against Dallas College Richland, Coastal Bend College, Western Gulf, San Antonio College, Jacksonville College and Blinn College also set the stage for a challenging North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) schedule.
“I thought we somewhat beefed up for non-conference schedule a little bit this year – opening Wednesday with Richland College from the Dallas area,” Taylor said. “We’ll go up to Hill College and play two games there at their Classic on opening weekend. We go down to Coastal Bend, which is another Division One junior college, and then we go on to play Kilgore and Angelina. You know it’s just our first two weeks, so we’re really excited about that schedule.”
Taylor said the preseason coaches’ conference poll picked the Leopards to finish fourth.
“I think we’re going to finish higher than fourth just because I know our kids’ hearts and how hard they play,” Taylor said. “Obviously, our goal is to win the conference. If we can’t win it, the other goal is to finish top four so we can go to the regional tournament.”
NTJCAC play starts on Jan. 10 at Grayson College, with the first home conference game on Jan. 17 against Ranger College.
About the 2023-24 WBB Leopards
Head Coach: Amber Taylor
Sophomores: Evelyn Lorenzo (Killeen/Ellison), Peyton Overton (Sugar Land/Dulles/Paris Junior College), Tia Mitchell (Katy/Cy-Lakes), Kyiah Hicks (Malakoff), Kira Bass (Killeen/Ellison), Camille Pritchard (Bristow, OK), Erika Suarez (Pflugerville/Hendrickson), Wilashia Burleson (Temple/Ranger College), Marta Sanchez (Spain via Austin/Anderson/Paris Junior College).
Freshmen: Aniyah Lewis (Katy/Cy-Lakes), Imani McCray (Conroe/Salt & Light Homeschool), Reagan Pavesi (Cedar Park/Vista Ridge), Ivey McCray (Conroe/Salt & Light Homeschool), Tationa Jones (Austin/LBJ).