With each passing win, Tarleton State head coach Ronnie Hearne adds to a legacy that began four decades ago at Millsap High School.
Next on the list of milestones for the 1,000-game winner is his 200th win at Tarleton, where he is in his 11th season and boasts twice as many wins (198) as losses (99). His 300th game as head coach of the TexAnns is also fast approaching.
Hearne's first shot at victory No. 200 leading the purple and white will come on Saturday, Jan. 4, when the TexAnns open Lone Star Conference play against Texas Woman's at Wisdom Gym. That's assuming he picks up win No. 199 when Texas College visits Stephenville next Thursday. Hearne's 300th game at the school is on Jan. 8 against Angelo State, also at home.
Hearne has 1,042 career victories, 617 of them at the collegiate level. He won 425 games as boys and girls coach at Millsap and Jacksboro, then won 419 over 21 seasons at Cisco Junior College. He picked up career win No. 1,000 when the TexAnns won 78-70 at Eastern New Mexico on Jan. 4, 2012.
Hearne has been remarkably consistent, winning 66.9 percent of his games at CJC and 66.7 percent at Tarleton for a 32-year college win percentage of 66.8. He led CJC to four conference titles and 18 regional tournament appearances.
At Tarleton, Hearne is responsible for half of the school's 10 total national playoff appearances, including all five playoff trips as a member of the NCAA. He guided Tarleton to its first Lone Star Conference championship followed by its first LSC Tournament title in women's ball in 2011-12. He has the highest winning percentage of any head coach at Tarleton, edging 409-game winner Jan Lowery's (1976-96) percentage of 64.2.
Hearne has also led the TexAnns to their highest national ranking since joining NCAA Division II in 1994-95 when they were 16th on Feb. 22, 2011. Currently, the TexAnns (8-1) have won five straight and are ranked 19th in in the latest USA Today Division II Coaches Poll. They won their only game since the latest poll was released on Dec. 17, thumping Cedarville (Ohio), 77-59 that night.
The TexAnns are outscoring opponents by an average of 20.8 points per game, they are shooting 9.3 percentage points higher than their foes, are hitting 11.3 percent more of their 3-pointers and hold a rebounding advantage of 12.5 per contest.
In fact Tarleton is better than its opponents in every statistical category listed on its overall team stats chart on the school's athletics website. They have the second best overall record in the LSC, just a half game behind 10th-ranked West Texas A&M, and are tied with Midwestern State for the league's longest current win streak.
Tarleton is first in the LSC in scoring at 80.4 points per game, first in scoring margin, second in field-goal percentage offense (47.1) and second in rebounding.
Kiara Wright, a reigning Women's Basketball Coaches Association and Daktronics All-American, leads the TexAnns at 20.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Stephenville product Brianna Bledsoe (11.9) and Iowa transfer Kathy Thomas (10.8) also average double figures, and six players are scoring at least six points per outing.