Warriors win 7th TAPPS State Championship in program history
COLLEGE STATION - Tanner Field knows what a championship team looks like.
Not just measured by the basketball skill that is displayed on the court night-in and night-out but by how close the team becomes throughout a season.
"Our message to these guys is always 'Be Third'," Field said. "Put God first, your teammates above yourself and constantly put yourself last. Every year we have bought into that we win championships."
Add 2021 to the list of years that his team has bought into that mantra.
The Woodlands Christian Academy successfully completed its jump up to TAPPS 5A by knocking off Fort Worth Christian 60-47 on Friday night at College Station High School for the program's seventh overall state championship.
"Amazing, especially being able to go up a classification and continue to compete," Field said about winning the title. "We have great young men that come to our program. This is what they want to do. They want to come to compete and win championships.
"Unbelievable kids, unbelievable families, and I got the best coaches."
This marks the second-straight TAPPS State Championship for The Woodlands Christian Academy. It is the third time in program history that the Warriors have won back-to-back titles. TWCA did it back in 2008-2009; 2011-2012 and now 2020-2021.
"Coming into the season we felt disrespected the whole way through, they always had us ranked No. 2 or No.3 and not at the top," Benigni, who has now won two-straight state titles, said. "So we wanted to come out and prove it tonight and that's what we did."
What makes the run of championships for The Woodlands Christian Academy even that more impressive is they have done it now in three different TAPPS Classifications.
"I think it's just our will to win," Benigni said. "No matter what stage we're on, we're always looking to compete, do the best we can and be on top."
In the opening round, Field saw his team with their backs against the wall against TMI-Episcopal. The Warriors were trailing at the half but were able to rally back for the victory.
"I think we knew that was going to be the 5A expectation, every playoff game is earned in 5A," Field said.
After pulling off a 64-52 victory over TMI-Episcopal, the Warriors rolled past St. Mary's Hall High School, 72-57, and then defeated St. Michael's, 44-31, to reach the TAPPS 5A State Championship game for the first time.
To reach their ultimate goal of lifting another TAPPS trophy, they would have to defeat Fort Worth Christian.
A 29-point performance from Benigni, followed by Chanse Perkins and freshman Zion Pipkin pouring in seven apiece, the Warriors were able to claim their third title in four years and seventh overall.
"Sometimes it's a relief and you try to enjoy it," Field said about winning the next title. "I'm just so happy because at the end of the day the things that are remembered are the things that are put on the walls of the gym.
"At The Woodlands Christian, we only hang state banners. So, I told these guys in the playoffs, if you want to be remembered in 10 years, you better put a permanent mark on the wall. They just kept getting closer and closer throughout the playoffs."
Now, for this junior class, led by Benigni, they will get a chance to do something that no other TWCA class has done in program history - win a third-straight in 2022.
"Absolutely, that's what we came here to do," Benigni said. "Put three banners on the wall in three years and hopefully keep doing it long after that."