For six years, East Texas has watched Sky’lynn Holmes live up to her name: going sky-high above the rest as one of the area’s top basketball players.
As a freshman at Pine Tree, Holmes once went for 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks against John Tyler on the way to being named the District 14-4A Newcomer of the Year.
By the time she was a senior, she was an All-East Texas Basketball Team regular, ultimately signing with Tyler Junior College.
After a loss to Trinity Valley in the Region XIV Tournament on March 10, Holmes, who has signed with Troy, thought her career in East Texas was at an end.
But a few days later, the Apache Ladies received surprise news that they had earned the final at-large bid to the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Basketball Tournament in Lubbock.
Holmes has one more chance to play for East Texas.
“I feel like it’s a great feeling just being able to go out there and work hard and play ball, something I love to play and just be a part of the team,” Holmes said.
Tyler opens the NJCAA tournament on Tuesday against Walters State and Holmes will be leading the team as she has for two seasons, tallying a double-double almost every night since she was a freshman averaging team highs of 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds.
This season, the 6-2 forward is averaging 14.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.
Only Nautica Grant (15.2) scores more than Holmes for TJC and Holmes knows she’ll be the center of attention against Walters State. It’s nothing new for Holmes.
“I’ve been getting tripled a lot this season, so I feel like getting the ball out and then setting myself back up to get the ball shouldn’t be a problem,” Holmes said. “But I’m going to go in with a strong head and try to finish hard.”
Holmes’ value to the Apache Ladies was felt when her season nearly took a drastic turn for the worse.
On Jan. 19, two days before a battle with No. 9 Trinity Valley, Holmes was in a car wreck and suffered a concussion. Tyler coach Trenia Tillis-Jones opted to hold her out lest she risk losing her for a longer period of time.
The Apache Ladies lost 84-56 in Athens, easily their worst loss of the season.
“I just really didn’t know what to think,” Holmes said. “Basketball is my love so I just didn’t know whether I was going to get back on the floor.
“I was itching to get back on the Trinity Valley floor to play. It was really nerve wracking, but I got it back on track.”
Holmes said the incident set her back a little bit physically but it also served as a wake-up call mentally.
“I feel like it was a sign telling me you need to get on it and give it your all because anything could happen at any minute,” Holmes said.
One of Holmes’ favorite memories of her time at TJC is beating Trinity Valley last year. Now Holmes has one more chance to knock off the Lady Cardinals.
If the Apache Ladies can get past No. 14 Walters State in the first round and No. 3 Chipola in the second round, they’d face No. 6 Trinity Valley on Thursday in the quarterfinals, assuming the Lady Cardinals do their part.
“I didn’t get to play them the first time so I would want that second chance or third chance with them again,” Holmes said. “I don’t want to back down and just say no I don’t want to play them again.
“I want to continue to play.”