Wednesday night’s basketball showdown with Collin at TC Gym provided a prime opportunity for the Temple College men to bolster their standing as the second-place team in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.
However, the visiting Cougars had other ideas.
Collin’s grind-it-out style never let Temple get its up-tempo offense going, and Mason Hix scored a game-best 24 points to lead the Cougars to a 73-62 victory that snapped TC’s conference winning streak at four games.
Kedrian Johnson scored 23 points and became Temple’s leading scorer in coach Kirby Johnson’s 33-season tenure, but the Leopards (22-4, 6-4 NTJCAC) suffered a season sweep by Collin (19-7, 7-4) and fell into fourth place in the conference standings.
In the women’s game earlier, Temple gave first-place Collin everything it wanted and found itself in a 47-47 deadlock with 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter. But missing free throws, committing turnovers and allowing offensive rebounds added up for the Lady Leopards as the second half progressed and the Cougars controlled the fourth quarter to pull away and win 84-68, sending TC to its third straight conference loss.
Lucy Ibeh produced a game-high 28 points to pace Collin’s balanced scoring attack. Tiana Gardner led Temple with 24 points and fellow freshman Jordyn Carter had 21, but no other Lady Leopard scored more than eight.
In his 32nd season as head coach, Jim Sigona has been at Collin only one season less than Kirby Johnson has been Temple’s coach. Their final duel at TC Gym wasn’t a thing of beauty, but his Cougars came up with the goods to earn a vital NTJCAC road win.
“We controlled the tempo. We normally don’t hold Temple to 62 points, so we did a pretty good job defensively,” Sigona said. “It’s always fun. This is a great gym to play in. Kirby’s had a tremendous career and I’m going to miss him.”
Kedrian Johnson scored 20 points in the first half but only three in the second. The West Virginia-signed sophomore guard overtook Kaelin Jackson (2016-18) for the most points in Kirby Johnson’s 33 seasons at TC. Carlton Linguard with 19 points was the Leopards’ only other double-figure scorer.
“We didn’t have enough balanced scoring tonight. We just have to play better,” said Kirby Johnson, whose squad played without suspended sophomore guard Kortrijk Miles, who averages 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. “I told the guys our games against Ranger, McLennan and Collin are about seeding. It didn’t go well tonight.”
Hix scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half for Collin, which got four 3-pointers and 14 points from reserve guard Orion Virden and 10 points from Josh Miller.
The Cougars led 42-33 at halftime, then allowed Temple to pull within 47-44 with 14 minutes remaining before Collin methodically widened its lead en route to recording a sweep of the Leopards.
Temple will host rival McLennan at 7 p.m. Monday in Johnson’s next-to-last game at TC Gym.
Needing to beat conference-leading Collin to make a big jump in the NTJCAC standings, Temple (15-10, 5-6) gave the Cougars (18-7, 9-2) a strong run for the better part of three quarters but couldn’t sustain it in the fourth as familiar shortcomings returned.
“We played well for the majority of the game. Our girls really competed and battled,” TC coach Kim Sebek said. “Down the stretch, Collin made plays and made shots, and we couldn’t find the bottom of the net. That’s them being a sophomore-oriented team and a well-coached team.”
Awatea Leach and Destiny Thurman scored 15 points apiece for Collin (19-7, 10-2 NTJCAC), which also got 13 from Shala Robinson.
Gardner recorded a double-double performance for Temple, grabbing 11 rebounds. Carter posted seven assists and four steals, and Kassadie Sanders also grabbed four steals.
Temple was tied 37-37 at halftime and trailed only 53-48 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lady Leopards faded late.
“We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half. We did a better job of that in the second half, but Collin was patient and worked the ball back and forth, and I think we rushed shots and were one-and-done,” Sebek said. “And we’ve got to do better at the free throw line to have a chance to win.”
Temple played without standout 6-foot freshman forward Starr Jacobs, who along with freshman post Amaya West was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, Sebek said.
Six-place Temple, now one game behind idle Grayson (6-5), plays at eighth-place Cisco on Saturday before it hosts rival McLennan at 5 p.m. Monday.