It was the Salado Lady Eagles’ time to shine, senior wing Meredith Ward just knew it.
Adjusting to a new coach through a difficult nondistrict schedule, Ward and the Lady Eagles used their own 11th annual Coach Smith Memorial Tournament last weekend to put it all together.
“I knew that Coach Smith was meant to be and I knew that there was hope that we’d do really well and we did,” Ward said. “We had a bunch of confidence, especially since it was at our home court.”
Ward, the Lady Eagles’ lone senior, averaged nearly 16 points a game, including a 23-point, 11-rebound out-burst against Austin St. Michaels, and Salado finished second in its final tune-up before the start of its District 22-2A season this week.
The team, which reached the Region IV-3A tournament the last two years but lost 6-foot posts Carling Urben and Kirstie McGillick after last season, is coming together under first-year coach Diane Konarik and around its nucleus Ward, this week’s KDHPressbox.com Player of the Week for Dec. 2-8.
“One of the first things I wanted to accomplish from the get-go was to get her to buy into what I’m doing because she can also pump up the girls,” Konarik said of Ward. “She’s that leader, she’s the role model, she’s that one that everyone wants to play for. And, they do; they play all out.”
Ward received 383 of the 529 votes cast (72 percent), handily winning the Player of the Week award over a trio of boys basketball players.
Shoemaker junior guard Shane Johnson finished second with 131 votes (24.7 percent). Harker Heights sophomore post Celneque Bobbitt II and Lampasas senior Cullen Singleton finished third and fourth, respectively.
“I never looked at it myself, I never voted for myself,” Ward said of the nomination and voting. “It’s for other people to vote for me. I didn’t feel like it was my part to vote for myself. I don’t know, I can’t do that. So, I just let it happen and I wasn’t trying to worry about it — if I won, I won and if I didn’t, I didn’t. ... To find this out is just amazing.”
Johnson averaged 15.6 points per game and led the Grey Wolves to three wins at the Flower Mound Tournament last weeked and another over Round Rock on Tuesday.
Bobbitt II averaged 15.6 points per game as Harker Heights finished third at the Buda Hays tournament. Cullen averaged 14 points per game as the Badgers extended their winning streak to 10 games and won the Ted Jones Memorial Tournament in Hamilton.