TENAHA, Tx -- A leader of the Tenaha Lady Tiger basketball program who has been a part of four straight district championship teams, senior guard Okievia Bratchett is going to have the opportunity to step into a collegiate program that has made two straight national tournament appearances.
Last week Lady Tiger guard Okievia Bratchett became the first Lady Tiger basketball player to sign a national letter of intent to play college basketball since 1984 when she inked to play at Southwest Assemblies of God University (SAGU) in Waxahachie.
SAGU has won at least 23 games each of the last three seasons, posting a combined record of 72-27 (.727 winning pct.). After a 24-6 record in 2008-09, the Lady Lions posted a 25-8 record in 2009-10 were invited to compete in the NAIA National Tournament in Jackson, Tennessee.
This season SAGU posted a record of 23-13 and played in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Tournament in Indiana, finishing third.
"We've had three very successful years in a row," said Lady Lions head coach Arlon Beadles. "Being invited to two national tournaments in a row and finishing third this last year was quite an accomplishment.
"But we lost four seniors this year and they were all guards - one was an All-American. So we'll be young at the guard position, and we hope (Okievia) will step in and be able to help us."
Beadles said his team doesn't run an up-tempo offense like Tenaha does, but he still feels that Bratchett has the tools needed to help his program succeed.
"I liked her quickness," Beadles added. "She's real quick and I think she's a true point guard. When she came down and worked out with the girls she was not looking to score all that much. She was really looking to give the ball to the bigger girls and that impressed us."
One aspect of play that Bratchett will fit in right away is her defensive game. Two years ago SAGU was the nation's No.1 defensive scoring team, allowing just 49 points per game. Bratchett has prided herself in the way she makes steals with the Tenaha program, which could translate into an easy transition into college ball.
"We're not an up-tempo team," the Lady Lions' coach explained. "We're more of a defensive-minded team. We fast break on steals and deflections a lot, getting a lot of points off that. When we don't run, we're running a lot of half-court offense.
"But we are real proud of our defense. I think our defense is what makes us go and we take a lot of pride in that."
SAGU, a member of the NAIA Red River Conference, made some noise in the NCAA Div. I ranks a year ago when the Lady Lions defeated Texas State University, 68-66, in overtime.
Bratchett said there were many aspects of the university that made the difference in her making a decision to sign with SAGU.
"It's a pretty big campus," Bratchett said of the 2,000-plus population at SAGU. "The people are really nice and it's a Christian college, which is what I was looking for.
"When I went down there I got to practice with the girls and it was really good. I can keep up with them, I just need to get in the weight room and do some work."
Bratchett said her years at Tenaha have taught her how to be patient and believe in herself.
"I can do everything if I just try and be patient," Bratchett said. "I've learned to be patient and work on the areas that I need to in order to get better.
"It'll be different there than it is in a small town like Tenaha, where I was the main person on the team. But I like being a team player and helping everybody to make us better.
"I have to work on my passing skills, but it's going to be a good challenge for me there. I'm excited about what's ahead."
Bratchett said she plans on majoring in Physical Therapy. She is the daughter of Carlos and Tamesia Johnson of Tenaha.
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