TEXARKANA, Ark. — The Heartland Christian Athletic Association senior boys and girls state basketball tournament has been postponed twice, prolonging Trinity Christian's teams postseason.
Originally the state tournaments were scheduled for last week, and this week, because of inclement weather, the event was pushed back until next week.
Trinity Christian's girls were regional runners-up, and the Warriors won the HCAA South regional and secured the top seed in the state tournament. The Heartland Christian Athletic Association state tournament for senior boys and senior girls begins at Columbia Christian in Magnolia, Arkansas.
The Lady Warriors play Southwest Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m., and the TC boys play at 7 against the winner of Garrett Memorial and The Cross. The second round is slated to be held at Union Academy in Fort Smith, Ark., and the finals will be played at Christian Heritage in Del City, Okla.
"Everyone overlooks our girls because they're a young group," Trinity Christian second-year head coach Bryce Evans said. "Trinity hasn't always been known for its girls program, and I try to use that to help motivate them. We're trying to ride the momentum from regionals — where we weren't expected to be in the finals — into the state tournament.
"On the boys side, the state tournament is ours to lose. We've got a lot of speed, play great defense and our shooting and transition game is solid. We have a big man, but we don't really need a big man because of our speed. If we come home short of a championship, it's going to be heart-breaking because we've worked so hard this year."
Evans' first year was a rebuilding year for the TC girls. The Lady Warriors graduated one senior in 2020 and has just one senior this winter.
Samantha Chandler is the lone senior and averages close to a double-double each game. Junior Landi Williamson is starter for Trinity, and sophomore Lani Lindsey holds the school record with 26 rebounds in a game.
"Lani is just 5-foot-4 but is the heart of our team," Evans said. "Whatever we need her to do in that game, she does her best to accomplish. She's our best defender."
Eighth-grader Kyleigh Purtle is 5-10 and led the Warriors in the regional final with 14 points and six blocks. She led the junior high girls during the regular season with 14 points per game.
Completing the Trinity Christian girls roster are junior Sierra Cooper, sophomores Hannah Leeper and Hannah McGuire, freshman Zoe Duffer, and eighth-grader A.C. Barr.
Trinity Christian's senior boys are 16-3 with the losses coming to 1A state champion Nevada, traditional power Kirby and a home school team from Shreveport.
"Expectations for the boys are really high," Evans said. "We've got good senior leadership, and some talented underclassmen, as well."
Senior Alex Cobb led the Warriors in the regional championship game with 29 points, including four 3-pointers. Senior Zack Franklin poured in 22 points in the regional final.
Sophomore Marely Franklin is the team's best defender, and sophomore Zach Graf picks up in any area the team needs a boost. Graf set a school record for scoring with 45 points in a game, and this season he scored 44 in a game and then scored 51 in the next game to set a new record.
"He is a gym rat; he's always in the gym," Evans said about Graf. "He's pretty tough. We have a freshman, Nate Wall, who can lock up any player from our opposition.
"We're pretty tough, and going into next week's state tournament I'm expecting nothing but a championship."
C.J. Horton is the only junior for the Warriors, and Brock McGuire is a sophomore. The remaining roster are freshmen Rye Altenbaumer, Dakota Boswell, Malachi Jones and Micah Pete.