Among the top newcomers who have grabbed McKinley’s attention are several transfers.
Waleska Perez is a 5-11 sophomore guard who transferred from New Mexico Junior College. She helped the Thunderbirds advance to the NJCAA Tournament last season and is a friend of Blanco. In fact, the two are from the same city — Caracas, Venezuela.
Bathsheba McMahon is a 6-2 sophomore forward/post and a transfer from the University of South Alabama.
Hailey Owens, a 5-5 sophomore guard, transferred from Lamar Junior College in Colorado, and 6-2 sophomore post Alexia Kelley is a transfer from Tyler JC. Also adding length to the roster is 6-3 Raquel Dent, who hails from Dallas.
Freshmen joining the team are 5-4 guard Brooke Rice (Lipan), 5-6 guard Bre Brooks (Tyler), 6-3 post Toma Zaleckaite (Palanga, Lithuania) and 6-foot forward/post Itiana Taylor (Pflugerville). WC also adds a local athlete to the mix in 5-11 guard Kaylee Brooks, from Weatherford High School.
“If expectations are met, this year’s team is better than last year’s,” said McKinley. “It could be a deeper team, too. Our freshmen group is really good.”
As usual, the Lady Coyotes are playing a challenging pre-conference schedule, one that includes perennial powerhouses Trinity Valley and Midland (twice), along with playing in the Tyler Classic.
Last season the Lady Coyotes climbed into the nation’s top 10 on their way to a share of the regular-season conference championship with Hill, each recording 12-2 records in league play. The Lady Coyotes were extremely tough at home (12-1), but were also good on the road (8-1) and on neutral courts (4-2).
So does that mean McKinley thinks his team will repeat as champs?
“I don’t know why not,” he said. “We’ve got really good size, good speed.
“We’re not going to be an easy team to beat, I know that.”