Randle Lady Lions making first trip to state basketball tournament: 'We are ready to play'

ByJoe Gleason KTRK logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Randle Lady Lions making first trip to state basketball tournament
Thomas E. Randle Lady Lions girls' basketball is set to open Thursday's state tournament against Frisco Liberty at the Alamodome.

RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK) -- The Thomas E. Randle High School Randle Lady Lions basketball team is making history.

At the beginning of the year, if anyone said this team would make it to state, not many would believe it except the team themselves.

"In the beginning of the season, I'm not going to lie, one of my teammates said, 'We're going to state. We're going to state,'" Senior guard Jalissa King said. "And then everybody started going along with it and repeating it and spoke it into existence."

Well, this special group made it to state and just won their 20th game in a row at the Region III Championship to qualify for state.

"It's mind-blowing because the state tournament is something all coaches dream about," Randle head coach Christy Westbrooks said. "A lot of coaches go their whole career; a lot of kids go their whole playing career without getting there. We're blessed, and it's mind-blowing."

It is quite an accomplishment for a school that has only been open for three years and has been playing varsity basketball for two. This is the first sport at the school that has qualified to play for state.

"It means everything. We're just so happy we're the group to do it," Junior guard Alaysia Cook said.

It's the schools's first trip to state, but Westbrooks has been there before as a player at Georgetown in 2003.

"I think it's pretty cool returning to the state tournament as a coach after being there as a player," Westbrooks said. "We had a special group at the right time. I had the same feelings about this group."

The state championship is a completely different atmosphere. It's the biggest stage, played in front of the biggest crowds - at the biggest venue these players might ever play in (Alamodome), so pressure can be high.

Westbrooks has already talked to her team about what they can expect.

"We can't underestimate the team we are about to play," Senior guard Jaziel King said.

"We are ready to play," Jaziel's twin sister, Jalissa, added.

"This is a business trip, not a field day. We need to go out there and play how we've been playing and remember the goal," Westbrooks said. "We need to keep loose and relaxed. We don't change what we do. We need the same mindset, same agenda. We need to remind ourselves, 'Yeah, it's for the gold, but it's just another game.'"

On the bench for Randle is Brian Randle, the school's head football coach and athletic coordinator.

He's also the son of Dr. Thomas E. Randle, a longtime educator who the school is named after. The coach stepped in when he was needed just after Thanksgiving, and he's gained a whole new respect for the Lady Lions players.

So you'd think a head football coach that comes into coaching girls' basketball wouldn't do much, but Randle is there for Westbrooks and the team no matter how big or small.

"I don't know many who would do as much as he has done," Westbrooks said. "There is no job too small. He'll get on his hands and knees and clean the floor if there is a spot. He washes laundry, separates laundry, makes ice baths. He's done a tremendous job coming over to help out."

Lady Lions open the state tournament Thursday against Frisco Liberty at 7 p.m. in the Alamodome. Good luck!