NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Tuesday was an historic night on the NCAA basketball court. For the first time ever, the Lady Texas A&M Aggies were crowned National Champions. The Aggies defeated Notre Dame 76 to 70.
But before they were champions, many of them were just North Texas high school students. Their friends and former coaches remember them as girls with big dreams and even bigger hearts.
On a roster of winners, one specific player stands out for DeSoto High School basketball players. “She was a hard worker,” DeSoto H.S. senior Jasmine Johnson said of her friend Sydney Carter. “She did the small things to get her team to where she is. She was a good leader.”
“It was wonderful,” Brianna Sifford said of her former teammate’s performance. “I was rooting for her the whole time – words can’t explain.”
Carter is a graduate of DeSoto High School and now, in her junior year at A&M, the Lady Aggies’ team captain.
“Very happy, thrilled – to know we have a young lady spent time in this building,” assistant girl’s basketball coach Willie Beal said. “A D-1 player that’s been successful and has made it all the way to the top.”
Coach Larry Goad was there for Carter during the Final Four – right before the Aggies took on Stanford in the semis.
“We worked hard,” Goad recalled. “We spent a lot of time on the court together, looking at film, talking about strategy.”
Goad said he clearly remembers reminding Carter of her high school rivalry with the Ogwumike sisters who now play for Stanford.
“This would be a great way to get payback, win the National Championship by knocking Stanford out – and they did,” Goad recalled telling Carter.
Carter’s former teammates and coaches agree that it’s her determination and drive on the court that makes her a true winner. Now she has the title to prove it.
That title is also inspiring other young players. “It gives me hope that as long as you work hard – you can get whatever you want accomplished,” Johnson said.
Other players from North Texas include Senior Maryann Baker from Bishop Lynch and Juniors Kristen Grant, from Arlington Lamar, and Skylar Collins from Cedar Hill High.
Head Coach Gary Blair is a Dallas native who graduated from Dallas Bryan Adams in 1963.