By Paul Thompson
With a minute to play in a hotly contested NCAA Women's National Championship game, Texas A&M needed a big play. The Aggies were inbounding the basketball with two seconds on the shot clock and a two point lead. The ball was passed in to former Hickman Mills star Tyra White, and she put up the shot she'll never forget.
"I just knew I had to get it up," White said about the three-pointer. "When I did, it felt short at first, but I was just happy it went in. Looking at the replay is pretty cool."
The shot gave the Aggies an insurmountable five point lead and their first ever national title. It was an emotional moment for White, the former McDonald's All-American who thought her career could have been over after a serious knee injury during her freshman season at Texas A&M. Now White can look back at the injury and appreciate the motivation that it gave her to come back as strong as ever.
"When I first tore my ACL I thought my world was over," White acknowledged. "Just looking from me as a freshman and now where I am, it was a blessing."
White redshirted during that freshman season, and didn't become a regular starter until her redshirt sophomore year. Last season, White teamed up with longtime friend and fellow Kansas Citian Danielle Adams to turn Texas A&M into a formidable opponent. Now a junior, White has emerged as a soft-spoken leader of the Aggies. She scored 18 points in the national championship game to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Tyra says that ultimately, leaving with a national championship was especially sweet after failing to win the Big 12 tournament in hometown Kansas City this season.
"It means a lot because we weren't able to do it at the Big 12 Tournament this year," said White. "We take a lot of pride in where we've come from. We take a lot of pride, me and Danielle do."
After her championship game performance, White received an outpouring of support from friends and fans from the Kansas City area.
"My high school coach sent me a fax, and I got a call from my old principal at Hickman. Just getting congratulations is nice," she said.
When asked if it was strange to learn that the school where she became a star, Hickman Mills, has now merged into Ruskin, White admitted it was a little different. But that doesn't take anything away from her hometown.
"It's very weird, but my cousin went there (Ruskin), and my little cousins go to Hickman (Junior High) now. They see my picture there at Hickman," said White of her old school. "It's kind of different to have all those kids in one building, but I love Kansas City, I love Hickman, and I love Ruskin."