The Lipan Lady Indians have been one of the top Class A Division II basketball teams in Texas the past three seasons.
And one look at their roster indicates they might get even better. This being after back-to-back state tournament appearances and spending most of this recent season ranked first or second in the state before being ousted in the third round of the playoffs.
The Lady Indians (32-5, 9-1 in 17-A) had only one senior on their roster, first-team all-district selection Rhiana Michou (8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals).
The rest of the team included freshman Lanie Roberts and junior Kayla Wheeler, who were named the Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.
In addition, junior Tallen Halliday (5.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals) was named first-team all-district, and sophomore Taylor Herrera (5.3 points, 3.1 assists) received second-team accolades.
Roberts burst onto the varsity scene in a variety of ways both offensively and defensively. She averaged 17.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists, but she also made it difficult for opponents to get anything going offensively by averaging 5.2 steals.
Wheeler averaged 2.7 steals and was consistently in the face of whatever opposing player had the misfortune to be guarded by her. She also averaged 7.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Michou bid farewell after leading the Lady Indians to a 110-33 record in four seasons, including a 10-3 record in the postseason. The 2011-12 campaign featured the Lady Indians playing in the state final for the first time, losing 60-41 to three-time Neches (the team that defeated them in the 2011 semifinals).
Michou was named Newcomer of the Year in district in 2010, followed by three consecutive first-team selections.
Michou is also playing in the 24th Annual Chicken Express All-Star Game tonight in Mineral Wells.
Strawn sophomore Jayde Price was named the district MVP, while Gorman junior Melissa Ramirez and Strawn sophomore Jacqueline Berumen shared Offensive MVP honors.
INDIANS GARNER THREE HONORS
While the Lipan Indians missed the playoffs (first time in more than two decades), there is hope that things could return to normal.
The Indians (12-16 overall, 4-6 in District 17-A) had three players selected for the all-district team by the league’s coaches. Two of those players are underclassmen.
One, in fact, is a freshman. Kyle Mercer was named Co-Newcomer of the Year, along with freshman James Weiss of Huckabay.
Also, junior Tanner Richardson was named to the first team and senior Blake Williams earned second-team honors.
“I am very thrilled for the kids that made it,” said Lipan coach Cody Chandler. “Kyle had a great freshman season, and at times carries us for stretches offensively in games.”
The Indians have long been used to reloading, but this was more of a season of rebuilding – which Chandler admitted that every great program has to face eventually. Mercer and Richardson, however, have brought a positive approach to the future, the coach added.
“Tanner was our best post defender and rebounder all season, and in district he stepped it up even more,” Chandler said.
Mercer averaged eight points and five rebounds, while Tanner averaged 10 points and eight boards.
Williams bid farewell to his time as an Indian having helped the team stretch its streak of regional tournament appearances to 11 straight through 2012. He averaged nine points and four rebounds as a senior.
“Blake began starting at the first of district and really played well all the through,” said Chandler.
Junior Zach Carlton of Gorman was named district MVP, while Huckabay had both the Offensive MVP (junior Junior Fragoza) and Defensive MVP (senior Mario Lopez).
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All-District 17-A Basketball Teams
Newcomer of the Year
Lanie Roberts, fr.
Defensive Player of the Year
Kayla Wheeler, jr.
Rhiana Michou, sr.; Tallen Halliday, jr.
Taylor Herrera, soph.
Co-Newcomer of the Year
Kyle Mercer, fr.
Tanner Richardson, jr.
Blake Williams, sr.