WALKER – Call it the triple crown of postseason awards, and there’s no denying in the eyes of Walker High senior Tiara Young where the latest one ranks.
Within the past month Young, an LSU signee, has been selected Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and Outstanding Player on the Class 5A All-State Team.
Those plaudits were trumped with the announcement Saturday that Young was chosen as the winner of 23rd Annual Farm Bureau/Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Miss Basketball award.
“At the top,” Young said when asked where the award ranked among her achievements this season. “It’s just a blessing.”
Young was admittedly unfamiliar with the award, which goes to the state’s best player. Young was quite aware, though, of some of the past winners of the award and the elite company she joins, including two-time winners Cara Ursin and Kalani Brown of Final Four participant Baylor and former LSU All-American Seimone Augustus, currently of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
“I’ve played against Kalani Brown and watched (Miss Basketball 2018) Kortney Weber (of Ursuline) play as well,” Young said. “It’s just a blessing to be a part of a list of people who are considered the greatest of the greats.
“I’ve watched Seimone Augustus play in the league,” Young said. “It’s just about working hard. I didn’t know too much about this award, but to receive it is big and means a lot. I worked hard all offseason.”
Walker coach Hannah Jones couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient than Young, who played at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport before making a family-related move to Walker for her senior year.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for her,” Jones said. “It’s a big honor and she deserves it. She puts up the numbers in different forms of the game.”
Young’s statistics were truly prolific, serving as the catalyst in Walker’s drive to the District 4-5A championship and the Class 5A state semifinals.
The Lady Cats wound up with a 32-5 record behind Young, whose final numbers were jaw-dropping:
* Scored career-high 1,056 points for average of 29.3 points;
* Tallied 248 rebounds for a 6.7 per-game average;
* Scored 30-plus points in 18 games;
* Scored 40-plus points six times;
* Scored a career-high 50 in District 4-5A win over Scotlandville;
* Recorded eight double-doubles;
* Finished with a career total of 4,372 points, which unofficially ranks Young as the top career scorer in state history, surpassing the 4,327 of Patricia Manuel of Athens.
“When I was little growing up, I never saw any of this coming my way,” Young said. “I just kept working hard and being in the gym. I was never satisfied with where my talent was. I always wanted to be better, always wanted to do better.”
Jones believes the impact of Young had on her team went beyond some of aforementioned statistics.
“Just her leadership and drive,” she said of Young. “People didn’t see her encouraging and talking to her teammates in the huddle. She led by example.”
Ask her the favorite moment of her season and Young won’t recite any of her statistical milestones or personal achievements. It’s rooted in her sense of team, the ability to connect with a new group of players and share a common goal that took them to within a game of playing for a state championship.
While the dream ended a step shy of its intended destination, Young reveled in her final journey as a high school player.
“I’ve always been a leader on my team, and I was happy with the way I led the team to the state tournament,” she said. “I matured more than any of my other years. I stepped up and led the team.”
Louisiana Miss Basketball
Farm Bureau/Louisiana Sports Writers Association Miss Basketball winners:
1996: Judy Clark, Singer
1997: Kisha James, Pineville
1998: Kisha James, Pineville
1999: Ashley Antony, Anacoco
2000: Alana Beard, Southwood-Shreveport
2001: Seimone Augustus, Capitol-BR
2002: Seimone Augustus, Capitol-BR
2003: Katie Antony, Anacoco
2004: Quianna Chaney, Southern Lab
2005: Courtnee Hollins, Fairview
2006: Alexis Rack, Franklin
2007: Tarkeisha Wysinger, Many
2008: Deana Allen, Ellender
2009: Kylie Leonards, Fairview
2010: Theresa Plaisance, Vandebilt Catholic
2011: Tina Roy, Kaplan
2012: Lulu Perry, Benton
2013: La’Dencia Johnson, Rayville
2014: Kalani Brown, Salmen
2015: Kalani Brown, Salmen
2016: Cara Ursin, Destrehan
2017: Cara Ursin, Destrehan
2018: Kortney Weber, Ursuline
2019: Tiara Young, Walker