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Trinity Valley Community College’s Stephanie Madden makes a move from the perimeter Saturday against Tyler Junior College at Cardinal Gym. The Lady Cardinals (17-6) held off the Apache Ladies (18-5) down the stretch for a 77-74 win. TVCC travels Wednesday to Paris for a 5:30 p.m. contest.

Charles Stiff photo
Athens Review, Athens, Texas

It was Lonnika Thompson’s turn.

The 5-5 freshman guard fired in 32 points Saturday afternoon at Cardinal Gym to lead the Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals to a 77-74 win over Tyler Junior College’s Apache Ladies.

The win moved the Lady Cardinals (17-6) closer to the top spot in Region XIV Conference, improving them to 8-3. TVCC and Panola are tied for second and one game back of Blinn, which fell Saturday in a 66-55 upset to Paris.

Tyler (18-5) fell into sole possession of fourth place at 7-4 with its second loss to the Lady Cardinals this season and 10th in the last 11 meetings. TVCC came away an 87-77 winner over Tyler in November.

Thompson was almost perfect when it came to shooting the ball. She was 10 of 12 from the floor and 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

“LT was the difference,” seventh-year Lady Cardinal coach Michael Landers said. “This time, she was the one who stepped up for us, which has become a characteristic of this team.

“It seems we always have someone different raise their game when we need it. Against Lon Morris it was Darika (Hill). It was Zane (Jakobsone) when we played Angelina). This time it was LT.”

TVCC built a 16-6 lead in the first seven minutes on the strength of three Ashley Walker three-pointers and Tyler’s inability to score from close range. The Apache Ladies hit just three of their first 20 shots.

Thompson took over midway through the half and enabled TVCC to stretch the lead to 11, 28-17, with at the 4:40 mark and 12, 33-21, with 1:54 to go in the half.

A 5-0 Tyler spurt, led by Jamia Malone’s three-point play on a layup and free throw, pulled Tyler within 33-26 at the half.

As good as the Lady Cardinals were at the free throw line in the first half (12 of 14), they were as bad to begin the second half. They missed eight of their first nine before settling down to hit 14 of their final 16.

They needed everyone of them, too, as Malone went on a tear for the Apache Ladies and began attack from the perimeter. She led TJC with 23 points, hitting the Apache Ladies’ lone three-pointer and going 10 of 11 from the free throw line.

Thompson hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left to move TVCC into a 77-74 lead. Tyler rushed the ball to offensive end in time for Malone to misfire on an off-balanced 22-footer at the buzzer.

Tyler had two other opportunities to tie the score in the closing minute and-a-half. With TVCC up 75-73, Laquisha Cook missed a layup. April Murphy missed a free throw with the Lady Cardinal lead at 75-74.

TVCC finished 27 of 29 from the free throw line. Tyler was 21 of 31.

The Lady Cardinals are scheduled to travel Wednesday to Paris. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

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