On Tuesday night, inside a gymnasium, a rising star was spotted.
That rising star is Tia Harston.
A 5-foot-6 point guard for Killeen High School, Harston is a terrific ball-handler, equally skilled with either hand.
As a team, Killeen is quite adept at breaking a full-court press with good plays — intelligent, strategic spacing and crisp passing. But Killeen head coach Latisha Williams, if she so chooses, can also call on another type of press-break: Everybody else clear out and let Tia dribble past the defenders.
This season, Harston is leading Killeen in scoring.
“I have confidence in my shots,” said Harston, with a simple shrug. “I feel comfortable shooting from anywhere.”
And when she says “anywhere,” she means that literally. On Tuesday night at General Shoemaker Gym, Harston drained a 25-footer. That’s enough distance to earn three points in an NBA contest with more than a foot to spare.
Harston attempted six long-range treys Tuesday and hit four — those four dead-eye swishes. She scored a game-high 22 points on eight shots in Killeen’s win over Shoemaker.
Last week, Harston had a game-high 21 points in Killeen’s district-opening victory over Copperas Cove.
These are big games of course. And Harston came through with clutch, big-time performances. Harston leads Killeen in assists, too. She’s a team-first player.
Oh, something else: Harston is leading the Lady Roos in steals. She shared game-high theft honors on Tuesday with five. In Killeen’s win over Cove, Harston had a game-high five steals.
Yes, this kid loves playing defense.
While she possesses a sweet, kind disposition off the court, on it ... she’s nasty. Her defensive style is of the tenacious, in-your-face variety.
Here’s the best part: She’s a sophomore. What’s remarkable, according to her teammates, is she’s the ex post facto leader of the ball club.
Harston doesn’t get rattled on the hardwood. With 4:45 left to play Tuesday, Harston picked up her fourth foul. Shoemaker had cut a 22-point deficit down to 11.
Killeen’s highly skilled coach had no intention of taking out her star player. Williams merely stood on the sideline and said, “Tia, you have four. You know what to do.”
Harston nodded. She did know what to do: play strong defense without drawing that fifth foul, continue to lead her team’s press break, run the offense and secure a critical win.
Harston kept cool, and therefore, so did her teammates. Killeen left the gym with a 52-40 win and its second district victory.
“I wasn’t always remaining cool on the court in the past,” Harston said. “I worked on that for a long time. I used to have the worst attitude. But I learned that doesn’t get you anywhere. Now I understand that it’s important that I keep control, play the best I can and lead my teammates — so that’s what I do.”
It’s always fun watching high school sports.
But it’s especially enjoyable when you catch sight of a rising star.
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566 and read his blog on KDHPressbox.com