By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 10, 2017) — Title sponsors have changed, women’s teams have been added and the participating teams have turned over through the years.
But one thing has never changed about the Texans Tipoff Classic, or its newer sister event the TexAnn Tipoff Classic – it marks the opening weekend of college basketball locally and across the nation.
“It’s a celebration in a way. We have a great fan base and this is an opportunity that we have maximized for many years now, to have a lot of basketball action in Wisdom Gym and in the Stephenville community on the opening weekend of each season,” said Tarleon athletic director and men’s basketball coach Lonn Reisman.
The opening day quadruple-header actually tipped off at noon Friday, in the F&M Bank TexAnn Tipoff Classic for women’s teams and at 2:30 p.m. in the F&M Bank Texan Tipoff Classic for men’s clubs. The Tarleton teams are still ahead at 5 and 7 p.m. and play at the same times on Saturday.
The TexAnns face Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference member Western State (Colo.) and Heartland Conference representative St. Mary’s (TX). The Texans get RMAC members Metro State (Colo.) and UC-Colorado Springs.
Winning the Lone Star Conference tourney title to advance to the South Central Region Championship gave the Tarleton women a lot of momentum moving into the offspring. Among the key holdovers are sophomore Mackenzie Hailey, who was the MVP of the LSC tournament and is has been voted preseason player of the year in the league, senior guard Tiara Tatum and sophomore guard Kylie Collins.
Key recruiting additions ot the TexAnns include Division I transfers McKinsley Bostad, a junior guard who played previously at Arkansas then Texas Sate, and Katie Webster, a junior forward coming toTarleton from Long Beach State.
Reisman cautions fans to be patient as his men’s team is the youngest it has been in a long time.
“We only have two senors and that’s about it as far as expeience. People forget Anthony Davis and Josh Hawley have only played one year, and Hawley was injured for the last five games of that,” Reisman said.
The seniors are senior points guard and returning starter Deshawn Riddick and Nosa Ebomwonyi also a senior guard. Davis, a sophomore power forward, was LSC Freshman of the Year last season. He and Hawley were sharing minutes until Hawley injured his knee, after which the Texans went 0-5 to finish 22-8 after being eliminated in overtime in the first round of the South Central Regional Championship. That came after three straight losses to end the regular season in second place instead of first, and an overtime loss to Angelo State to begin the LSC tourney.
Junior point guard Corinthian Ramsey, a JUCO transfer, Division I transfers and forwards Jaraan Lands and Jesse Hill and incoming freshmen Clashon Gaffney of Clarksville and Preston Enloe of Carrollton are all expected to make significant contributions rig away. Antoher one to keep an eye on is junior guard Ruston Hayward, a dynamic offensive threat who was a JUCO transfer last season but redshirted,
“We have a lot of new faces and several of them are very young, so we’re just very green all around,” said Reisman. “We are going to struggle some, because our schedule is not easy. But I’m excited to stop and take a breath for a second in late January to mid-February, somewhere right in there, and gauge just how far this team has come.”