MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Midland College men’s basketball has had a magical March. They needed everything to go right, and it did.

Unranked to end the regular season, the Chaparrals snuck into the Region tournament in their very last regular season game. Midland’s only guarantee to make the NJCAA national tournament was to win the Region V Tournament championship.

And they did.

From unranked to end the season, to being the eighth overall seed and earning a first-round bye in the national tournament.

Further, Midland was a sub-500 team for the past six seasons, going 12-17 and missing the playoff last season.

Until Tra Arnold stepped on campus.

Midland College hired Tra Arnold in June 2022. A proven winner in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, Arnold spent five illustrious years as the head coach at Midland rival Odessa College. In his time at Odessa, Arnold went 159-32, leading the Wranglers to two region championships and three consecutive national tournaments.

Arnold turned the Chaparrals around in just a season. Midland College finished the regular season 23-6, third in the WJCAC and Region V champions.

What does Arnold credit to his debut season successes?

“Guys buying into the process, buying into me, buying into what it took to win. We had to change a lot of the culture but I feel like it’s moving, everything is moving here in the right direction, and this group is the first one to start it,” Arnold said.

Midland College made its first NJCAA national tournament since 2011, earning the eighth overall seed and a first-round bye.

“The goal is to get a ring at the end of the day and just work hard every day. Don’t let nothing go for granted. You only get so many times to tie your shoes is what coach says so every time you tie them, make it a moment and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Keonte Jones, Midland College sophomore guard, said.

The Chaparrals make their 2023 tournament debut Tuesday against nine-seed Chipola. Tipoff from Hutchinson Sports Arena is at 4:30 p.m.