Midland College Magic March: Chaps ready for national tournament
MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) — Midland College men’s basketball had a magical march. They needed everything to go well, and that’s what they did.
Unseeded to finish the regular season, the Chaparrals snuck into the regional tournament in their very last regular season game. Midland’s only guarantee of making it to the NJCAA National Tournament was winning the Region V Tournament Championship.
And they did.
From unseeded at the end of the season, to the eighth seed and earning a bye in the first round of the national tournament.
Additionally, Midland was a sub-500 team the past six seasons, going 12-17 and missing the playoffs last season.
Until Tra Arnold walked onto campus.
Midland College hired Tra Arnold in June 2022. A proven Western Junior College Athletic Conference winner, Arnold spent an illustrious five years as the head coach of Midland rivals Odessa College. While in Odessa, Arnold went 159-32, leading the Wranglers to two regional championships and three consecutive national tournaments.
Arnold transformed the Chaparrals in just one season. Midland College finished the regular season 23-6, third in WJCAC and Region V champions.
What does Arnold attribute to the successes of his first season?
“Guys who buy into the process, who buy into me, who buy what it took to win. We had to change a lot of culture, but I feel like things are moving, things are going in the right direction, and this band is the first to start it,” Arnold said.
Midland College hosted its first NJCAA National Tournament since 2011, earning the eighth seed and a first-round bye.
“The goal is to get a ring at the end of the day and work hard every day. Don’t take anything for granted. You only have a limited number of times to tie your shoes, that’s what what the coach says, so every time you tie them up, make it a moment and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” said Midland College sophomore guard Keonte Jones.
The Chaparrals make their 2023 tournament debut on Tuesday against ___. Departure from Hutchinson Sports Arena is at 4:30 p.m.