Sumrall’s Tariana Greenwood is not exactly one of the flashiest basketball players. However, her impact on the court was felt by every team she and the Lady Bobcats faced.
Greenwood led the area in scoring and was key in guiding Sumrall to a 21-win season and a Region 7-4A regular-season title, which is what earned her the honor of Pine Belt Sports Girls Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season.
Greenwood passes all the credit for her success to her teammates.
“(The honor) means a lot because a lot of times I don’t realize how good I can be,” Greenwood said. “This just shows me how good I am. I think the reason that I am as good as I am is because of my teammates. A lot of times, when I feel like I’m playing badly, they lift me up and make me play better. They are really great teammates, and I think they are the reason that I was as successful as I was.”
Greenwood averaged 16 points per game, which was tied for the most in the area, and averaged eight rebounds, four steals and three assists per game this past season.
“I expected this year to be something special for her because she is just a special ballplayer,” Sumrall coach Dodie Robertson said. “Every year, she has gotten stronger and stronger and has gotten more competitive. She can make things happen. It started last year with her excelling. She could jump higher, rebound more, out dribble opponents and go by them and create shots for herself.”
Greenwood’s road to basketball was much different than most as she didn’t begin playing the sport until Robertson convinced her in the fifth grade. Robertson noticed her raw talent in a small game the kids played while waiting for the bus at the end of the school day.
“We used to play this hand ball game,” Robertson said. “You throw the ball across the room and had to catch it with one hand. She was so good at that, and that’s how I discovered her. She had something special in her, and I saw it in her.
“She has really developed into a good player. She also has the best 3-point shot that I have ever seen in girls’ basketball, and I’m not just saying that. She has the softest hands, and her shot is just pure. It was natural in junior high she could hit that three, and she just got better and better at it.”
According to Greenwood, the idea of playing basketball never crossed her mind, but she is grateful for Robertson, whom she now considers almost like a mother.
“To be honest, I never played basketball and had never thought about playing until I met Coach Dodie in the fifth grade,” Robertson said. “She coached me, and she made me like it. She was my coach in middle school and was my coach ever since. She is the main reason I kept playing for all these years.
“She’s meant a lot to me,” Greenwood said. “She’s more like a mom to me and is the reason I’m good at basketball. She was the only reason that I played, and I’m just thankful that she was in my life.”
One of Greenwood’s highlight nights is when she scored a season-high of 33 points against Loyd Star. That night she also hit six 3-pointers, hauled in eight rebounds and had five steals.
“She’s such a quiet player,” Robertson said. “You look at her, and you don’t think she doesn’t do what she does. She quietly takes over, and you don’t necessarily notice it. It just happens. She’s not one of those flashy players, but you look up, and all of a sudden, she has 20 points.
Greenwood also scored 20 or more points eight times on the season while also having nine double-doubles.
“When I went into the season,” Greenwood said. “I figured we would be pretty good. I knew as a team that we would be incredible because we were prepared for it. For myself, I didn’t expect to do the stuff that I did.”
Greenwood’s season was unexpectedly cut short after being quarantined for COVID-19 just after Sumrall defeated rival Purvis for the Lamar County Tournament championship and region title.
“When the season ended, I was getting a little depressed, but then I was thankful that I had a team like that and had them in my life for this long,” Greenwood said. “I didn’t know Purvis was going to be my last game. It was unfortunate. I wish I could have played one more game, just one more.
“I really can’t imagine playing with anybody else other than the girls that I have been playing with since fifth grade. They were a family to me. Those girls are my best friends, really sisters, because I don’t know what I would do without them. They are the reason I look forward to going to school every day.”